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Snow White Retelling | Book Review: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen was a total let down.

Book Review: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

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the shadown queen c.j. redwine book review

Title & Author: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Retelling

Release Date: February 16, 2016

Series: Ravenspire #1

Publisher: HarperCollins

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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.”

Sad Faces All Around

Full disclosure: I read 50 percent of the book, then DNF’d (did not finish) it.

The Shadow Queen is billed as a fresh Snow White retelling, and fortunately avoids a literal approach. The subtlety’s are there, but it’s not a direct mirror of the original story.

Unfortunately, what was presented in the book was devoid of character development and joy.

Part of the problem for me was that the The Shadow Queen opens with Lorelei, her brother and guardian all on the run. Like in the classic tale, an evil queen (Irina) has taken over the kingdom and magicked everyone to follow her harsh rule.

Only Lorelei has the power to stop Irina, and she’s trying to figure out how do that while staying hidden and alive.

Because of this dynamic, readers are immediately thrown into the fray with Lorelei. I didn’t feel connected to her as a character because her real personality isn’t shown – she felt like a stand in princess with power.

Then, some new characters are introduced – Kol, a dragon prince, and his friends/protectors. Just when their storylines start to pick up, things take a turn and become slightly ridiculous.

I’m also not a fan of characters being included JUST to be a catalyst for a bigger movement. The one I’m talking about literally had no other purpose and was basically a literary device. It was transparent to me and pretty frustrating.

I stopped as the action was finally starting to pick up. I did not feel compelled to keep reading and felt adrift from any attachment to the characters.

I’m pretty bummed about this one because my fave Maria V. Snyder blurbed this story with a rave review.


The lack of character development and unimaginative ideas made The Shadow Queen a flop for me. If you’re looking for other great retellings, I would recommend reading anything by Rosamund Hodge, the Lunar Chronicles or The Wrath and The Dawn instead.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Emily Alfano

    Oh no! i’m so sad to hear that you DNF this one! because i’ve been so excited for it and i actually just made up my Waiting on Wednesday post about it!
    Thanks for the honest review though!
    Emily @ http://www.rabbitholereviews.com