Expected Publication: February 23rd, 2016 by Balzer + Bray
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the opinions stated below.
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.
In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.
But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.
For the most part, The Shadow Queen definitely did not disappoint. The stakes were high. My emotions were flying. And bonus points because The Shadow Queen did feel like a fairytale to me in a different way from usual, though I don't think I can really explain why.
I do wish we had gotten to see more descriptions of the land, more about how its people interacted with each other, what it was all like. I wanted more of the little details that make fiction feel real. The Shadow Queen is very much focused on Lorelai's fight to get back Ravenspire. Its people are miserable under the hand of our evil queen, Irina. They're starving even though there's certainly enough food to go around. But I want to know how the kingdom worked. Its structure, you know?
That being said, Lorelai's fight is a pretty good one. We get to see plenty of odd magic and I loved Lorelai as a heroine. She's so strong and determined, regardless of the way her life has ended up. Both her parents were taken from her long ago. She's lived on the run, with only her brother and Gabriel to teach her magic. It's been a long journey back to the Ravenspire throne. And when she's once again faced with tragedy. . . Well. She manages to pull herself together for the sake of the kingdom. EVEN IF I WASN'T TOO HAPPY WITH OUR TRAGEDY. SOB.
There are dragons and ogres and gyrfalcons - though I wish we had gotten to see and hear about more creatures. I wish the descriptions had made them come to life a little more. But anyways. Like I said, the magic aspect was very interesting - not in an astounding and intricate way, like A Darker Shade of Magic - though it still had its own new aspects.
Lorelai has a connection with her gyrfalcon that allows them to speak to each other, to send images. It's something that could have been really weird but wasn't. It worked. Lorelai had a devoted companion and the relationship between them was a nice touch. And Gabriel, who has been her mentor and a father, in a way, was another relationship I enjoyed. Gabriel is just as stubborn as Lorelai which makes for some interesting.
Of course, we also have Kol, newly crowned King of Eldr. And, you know, a dragon. (Not the coolest dragon ever, mind you, but I'll take what I can get because DRAGONS.) He unwillingly becomes a pawn in Irina and Lorelai's fight and a course of evens leads him to be able to communicate with Lorelai telepathically as well - and unable to speak aloud. Though their relationship wasn't steamy and it's not going to make my list of favorite ships ever, they definitely had their sweet moments and I could really feel their connection. There was tension, there was danger, and they didn't just throw themselves into it. They definitely fit together very well.
"I'm not in love with him. I've known him less than three weeks."One of my favorite things is that we do get to see things from Irina's point of view. Her heart, her magic, they're failing her. They've been failing her for years as she takes and takes and takes from the land. She's manipulative, of course, and carries all the familiar markings of an evil queen, but C.J. Redwine somehow managed to make her feel unique, and I loved that.
tl;dr: The Shadow Queen wasn't a beautiful and incredible adaption the way I feel like Cinder is, but I really, truly enjoyed it. Lorelai is a pretty fantastic heroine with a fire and determination to take back her kingdom. The Shadow Queen felt vibrant and fun and as my first 2016 book, it definitely didn't disappoint. 4 stars.