2016 CJ Redwine’s The Shadow Queen

A riveting retelling. Snow White has grown a backbone and a half to save her kingdom. And she doesn’t do it alone.

When Lorelai’s parents are murdered, she wants to save her family and her kingdom. Ravenspire is in the throes of death, the earth of the kingdom itself drained by Queen Irina’s lust for power. When Queen Irina comes for Lorelai and her brother Leo, the princess discovers strengths greater than she knew through her struggle to tame shape-shifting dragons, defy an evil queen, and do the right thing.

Love in many forms directs Lorelai’s adventures in the mountains, other kingdoms, and the wilds of the heart. She loves her brother and her people, both entrusted to her by her father. And Lorelai is unexpectedly attracted to young King Kolvanismir, a shape-shifter with two hearts, human and dragon, who accepts a deadly blood-oath to Queen Irina in a desperate bid to save his own people of Eldr, besieged by Ogres. Queen Irina twists Prince Kol’s oath to meet her evil need, steals his human heart, leaving his inhuman dragon heart, and he becomes the queen’s huntsman, driven to kill Lorelai.

She punished you. There was pain in [Lorelai’s] voice. Sorrow. But there was also anger, sharp as a blade and twice as strong. She figured out that we tried to trick her, and she punished you by taking your human heart. My magic can feel the space where your heart used to be. We have to get it back, Kol. …

There was no healing for him. He was fire, blood, and death …

To save Ravenspire, Eldr, and her huntsman (before he gives in to his inner dragon and rips her heart out of her chest), Lorelai must learn the meanings of true love as she pursues justice, life, and peace for those around her.

Her splendid, fierce love for Kol contrasts with Viktor’s mixed and misplaced love for Irina. The princess’s willingness to sacrifice herself opposes Irina’s monstrous self-love; and Lorelai’s love for her friends and Kol’s (though sometimes they are dangerous and annoying) allows them room to grow into true friends.

A quick-moving tale of self-less love versus self-love, played out on a vibrant background, The Shadow Queen holds your attention to the last page.

Kings, queens, princesses, and common people mindlessly obey the queen, fear her to their last breath, or hate her. For love cannot be bought or commanded by the power of a be-spelled apple or a heart rotten at the core. Love that is true loves another more than itself. The Shadow Queen reminds me how our imperfect hearts were shown perfect love by Another.

The story elements in The Shadow Queen astonished me. I did not expect such a well-woven tale. With shape-shifting dragons that remind me of Seraphina, and life-draining spells that call to mind Snow White and the Huntsman (Extended Edition)
movie, The Shadow Queen weaves a fresh tale worth reading.

There are a few mentions of pants-less shape-changers, but the book is morally clean, no one betraying anyone else in that matter, which gives it high points. The Shadow Queen is more magic heavy than I usually read; I don’t think the elemental-type portrayal of magic is the best way to show other-worldly power, though the story makes clear that that power, in that world, is simply a tool one is born with that can be used for evil or good. (As opposed to elemental powers in our world that one only gains from evil beings.) I am glad that kind of power and responsibility is not mine. LOL. I have enough power of destruction in my heart to deal with, and a gift of Love to enjoy and pass on, some aspects of which CJ shows so well in The Shadow Queen.)

So read it yourself, tell us what you think, and share this post with friends.

Azalea Dabill

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