I will be including a spoiler-free and a discussion section.
The Shadow Queen is the first book in Ravenspire series by C.J. Redwine which is a young adult, fantasy, retelling of Snow White that includes different lands that include dragons and mardushkas (magical beings) that was published on February 16, 2016 by Balzer + Bray.
From the synopsis from the back of the book:
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.
This gave me the same emotions and feelings that the Lunar Chronicles made me feel. It definitely became one of my favorite books of the year and one of my favorite retellings.The main character, Lorelai, is definitely one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever read about. She was loyal
The main character, Lorelai, is definitely one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever read about. She was loyal and stood by her values even when it wasn’t convenient. I can also say the same for Kol. He definitely became my new fictional boyfriend. He was so cute and flirty but also strong-minded and intelligent.
It was also really cool to read about dragons because it’s not something that I’ve read a lot about and it was just so cool to have them in scenes especially in the end of the book.
I loved C.J.’s writing and I’m so excited to continue on with this series. I loved the world she created and I can’t wait to learn more about it. If you haven’t read this book, I definitely recommend especially if you love retellings.
This book started off really intense especially cause we see two young kids watch many people die, including their father before they run off. The imagery in this scene was completely insane during this scene
After we read that, we jump to 9 years later. In that first chapter, I completely fell in love with Lorelai’s younger brother, Leo. And once he made me laugh, I literally thought “Oh shit, they’re going to kill him.” (And that’s how I realize that I read a lot)
Leo grinned. “That’s because you’re good at Magic, and I’m good at everything else.” (p.9)
Leo looked aggrieved. “I’m always the one who has to do the heavy lifting.”
Lorelai’s smile was smug. “That’s because I’m good at Magic, and you’re good at everything else.”
“That was cruel, Lorelai.” Leo sighed dramatically and hefted the first sack. (p.9-10)
I love the relationship Lorelai has with her brother. While he was there, those scenes were definitely my favorite. I was also entertained whenever Lorelai communicated with her bird, Sasha. Especially when Sasha wanted to keep bringing food to the humans and was always like “yeah, I’ll help but I have to hunt first because I’m hungry.” (I literally relate with a gryfindor.
She turned toward Leo, who gave her a cheeky grin. “You are looking most fetching this morning. Though I only have Gabril for comparison, so take that as you will.” (p.19)
One of the most heartbreaking scenes was when Lorelai heard a woman sob and it turns out that the woman killed her 4 children because they were slowly dying from starvation and she couldn’t watch them suffer anymore. This scene also keeps Lorelai motivated to keep going because she thinks about that until the end of the book.
When we’re introduced to Kol, I knew instantly that I was going to fall in love with him. He was a trouble maker who cared about the people around him. It was so heartbreaking when his headmaster tells him that his parents are both and so is his older brother, Rag, which makes Kol the new king of Eldr.
Whenever Lorelai is apart of any plan or battle, it’s always so badass.
We learn the queen, Irina, has heart problems which is why she takes people’s hearts as a punishment because she needs a heart that can save her from herself. I really got Queen Levana vibes from Queen Irina which made me hate her but sympathize with her at the same time.
She held her spine straight and kept her voice steady as she asked, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most powerful of them all?”
The mirror’s opaque surface swirled into a gray mist and then slowly resolved into Irina’s own reflection— pale blond hair, a delicate face, and eyes as blue as the summer sky.
The queen smiled. (p.58-59)
It was amusing at how impressed Kol and Trugg were by Lorelai especially because they don’t realize that she’s not a regular human.
“You look most fetching today, my lord.”
The large Eldrian boy snorted. Kol’s eyes widened, and his smile froze. And Leo– curse his miserable hide– made the kind of strangled choking noise that meant he was trying desperately not to laugh.
“Oh no.” Lorelai pulled her hand from Kol’s, her skin prickling with heat from absolute humiliation. Maybe if she prayed hard enough, the forest floor would open up and swallow her. If there was any justice in the world, it would swallow Leo too.
“I… thank you?” Kol glanced at his escorts, but they were both smirking at him.
“This is your fault.” Lorelai glared at Leo, who stopped trying to swallow his laughter and sagged against the closest tree trunk so he could truly enjoy her embarrassment. (p.75)
I loved the scenes where Lorelai had to act “formal”. So the queen has these apples with black rot inside that causes the person to be loyal to her and answer her questions honestly which is evil but creative.
The scene where Irina was looking for them literally gave me so much stress. Like, I’ve never said oh no so many times in my entire life. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten attached to Leo, he just died and my heart literally couldn’t handle it. I had to put the book down. I loved how he kept his humor alive until his last breath and how he just wanted to protect his sister just like his sister just wanted to protect her
Leo was gone.
Three simple words that tore into the foundation of Lorelai’s life and left ruins in their wake.
Leo was gone.
Her best friend. Her greatest antagonist and staunchest ally. Her brother, who’s believed in her with every fiber of his being.
And whom shed failed to protect.
She stumbled over the bumpy roots of a sugar maple and fell to her knees. The forest was too quiet, the world too vast, without Leo in it.
He was gone. (p.124)
Okay I know Irina is the villain but I totally shipped her and Viktor like he actually loves her without having to be bespelled.
I loved how Trugg has no problem being completely naked and Kol has to keep reminding and commanding him to actually put clothes on.
Irina really reminds me of Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles bc I haven’t felt this much hatred in a while. I hated when she took Kol’s human heart out and let him keep his dragon heart because now he can’t control himself.
Lorelei is literally so brave. When Kol tried to attack her, she just wanted to ease his pain. And in doing that, they’re able to hear each other’s thoughts. It’s so sad for me to read Kol’s inner turmoil against himself and it’s literally making me realize how attached I am already.
Omg I loved the scene when Kol was thinking about kissing Lorelai and when she wakes up and they’re talking through thoughts she’s like sorry I was listening to your thoughts for longer than I said and then he was embarrassed bc of the kissing thought but that’s not what she was talking about and she started to blush, it was so cute.
If this is going to work—
It doesn’t have to work. Block me.
She rolled her eyes. If this is going to work, we need some ground rules.
Or you could just block me.
She stabbed a finger in his direction. Stop arguing with me. I’m not leaving you trapped inside yourself with no one to talk to.
His thoughts warmed toward this girl who kept surprising him at every turn with the size of her heart and the strength of her spirit
You keep rescuing me.
Don’t let it get to your head. She gave him a crooked smile. I’m sure one of these days you’ll have the chance to rescue me instead.
I hope not. He got to his feet and offered her his hand. I hope you stay completely out of danger. (p. 244)
The scowl on Gabril’s face deepened. “Are you going to stand there holding hands all day, or are we going to do this?”
Kol let her go. Cold air swept over her skin in the absence of his warmth, and she felt ridiculous for noticing the way his hair curled over his ears and the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed.
Careful now, he said as he brushed past her to follow Gabril. We might need to add a ground rule about noticing inappropriate things at inappropriate times. He sounded amused. (p. 255-256)
I was fangirling because Kol and Lorelai hug but then shit gets real after they hug, Irina shows up and fucks everything up. Btw I also love how they talk to each other through thoughts especially in moments like this bc they obviously have to separate but they can still communicate. Also, Lorelai is so badass when she connects to the tree that created the bridge and she has the bridge destroy itself like yaaas Queen
I loved the scene when they ask each other questions to “get to know each other” even though they know most things about each other.
It was so cute when Lorelai jumped into his arms bc she was so excited and she was all flustered and shy and Kol’s just amused and affectionate about the whole thing. We learn that Lorelai is so powerful bc before her mother, Tatiyana, gave Lorelai every last drop of her magic before she died. So Lorelai has her own magic and her mother’s.
“I may be old, but I’m not blind. I can see when I’m intruding.” His hand wrapped around her shoulder and squeezed gently. “You two don’t stay out too late talking, and don’t do anything you don’t want to tell me about in the morning.” (p.305)
Are we about to break your ground rules? Kol leaned toward Lorelai slightly, giving her time to move away if she chose.
Ground rules? She looks at his mouth and her breath quickened.
You remember. The list you gave me when you decided not to block me out of your head? He took one of her cold hands in a sharp little breath when he rubbed his thumb over her wrist. The way her pulse beat frantically against her skin.
What about it? She licked her lips, and he willed her to move toward him. To want this like he wanted it.
You make me want to break one of your ground rules every time you look at me like this. And, skies help him, waiting for her to decide if she truly wanted him or not was torture.
Her smile was a slow journey of warmth that lit up her face and lingered in her eyes. You want to kiss me.
For a brief moment, visions of the many other girls he’d casually kissed at the academy filled her mind, and he shook his head. No, Lorelai. You’re different. This- he held up their joined hands– is different. Search my thoughts, and you’ll see the truth. (p.307-308)
The scene where Irina wanted to use Kol’s heart and Viktor was absolutely not having it. He tells her he loves her and to please stop all of this so they can be together but I know from experiences with Queen Levana that she’s going to do whatever she has to do to stay in power. Viktor is so amazing. He sacrificed his life in order to stop Irina from taking the years from Kol’s life and taking it from his instead. It’s admirable.
“And another thing.” She raised her finger and pointed it first at Jyn, who seemed to vehemently hate her for the power in her blood, and then swept her arm to include them all. “My name is Lorelai, not mardushka. I don’t want to hear another word against my magic. Magic is an impartial force that obeys the heart of the one who wields it. If I wanted to harm Eldr, I wouldn’t have honored my promise to Kol and sent a barrier between the ogres and your people. You should be grateful that I’m a mardushka, because you are going up against the most powerful woman who ever came out of Morcant, and the strength of my heart is the only thing standing between you and total destruction.” (p.354)
I love sassy Lorelai. I also loved how the dragons came together to save Kol. Something that bothers me about villains is that they always use what they love the most to weaken them like if they had confidence they would win, they wouldn’t need those loved ones. Like villains like Queen Irina are the weakest of them all
He raised his head and gave her a tiny smirk. I did tell you if kiss you back to life if I had to.
She smiled. I’m sure it was a hardship for you.
He tried and failed to smile in return. I thought I’d lost you. I don’t ever want to go through that again.
She took his face in her hands. My heart will always come back to you.
Her kiss warmed him in a way his dragon’s fire never would. (p.378-379)
The epilogue was so cute and sweet how he surprised her at her coronation because he knew she was going to be nervous. I absolutely loved this book and it’s become one of my favorites of the year. It’s so good.