This book has been on my TBR since 2017, when I saw the second book and immediately fell in love with the cover and end pages. I immediately decided that this is a series I must read. Unfortunately, it was around that time, I think, that I started to lose interest in YA fantasy. The genre was becoming too much of a romance based in a fantasy setting rather than a fantasy story with a dash of romance. I became annoyed with the books I was reading and slowly started to gravitate to either adult or middle-grade fantasy.
But then 2019 came along and with it the Wyrd & Wonder reading event where I spent the month of May reading nothing but fantasy novels. That was a treat! As I was considering what to read for the event, my eyes landed on The Shadow Queen and I decided to finally give it a go while hoping it will not be drenched in romance.
It wasn’t. 😊
Ravenspire, book 1
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. (Goodreads)
This was exactly what I wanted: straight up YA fantasy with a hint of romance; a romance that doesn’t overpowers the plot. Actually, the romance in it isn’t very strong. It’s just obvious that the two characters are attracted to each other. There aren’t any major claims at being in love with each other after spending a handful of days together. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I was excited to finally read this book. I went in not expecting much except to have a deep admiration for the end pages, which shows a map of Ravenspire, the kingdom this story is set in, and the other kingdoms that surround it. When I started reading, I wasn’t hooked on the story or captivated by the writing, but I kept reading because the plot was interesting and I didn’t mind tagging along to see where it leads.
It’s obvious from the cover and the first sentence that the story is inspired by fairytales, and the more I read, the more I realized that it’s inspired by Snow White. One can also determine this from reading the summary of the book, but I didn’t and had forgotten what I read back in 2017. I like Redwine’s twist on this fairytale. I like how the plot progresses, how Lorelai and Kol meet, and how they manage to work together to defeat the queen.
However, I was annoyed by a few things, mainly the fact that Lorelai is motivated by only two things, it seems, — the death of her brother and a lady she found who thought it a mercy to spare her kids from the hunger they were slowly dying from by quickly killing them. She constantly returns to these moments whenever she needs a boost in motivation to accomplish a task. I understand that such destressing and devastating occurrences work as strong motivators for the character, but they became repetitious after a while because the same things, the same images, were often mentioned again and again. It made the story seem longer than it was to me. As I neared the end, I became impatient with such repetition and just skimmed the last few chapters. It was that annoying.
I also wish her brother and certain other characters had received more development. It was a bit obvious that the brother would die to give Lorelei the push she needed to become more serious about regaining her kingdom, but more character development for him would make me, the reader, experience his passing too. But, as it was, I didn’t care either way about him, although I did think it was awful that Lorelei had to experience losing someone again.
Meh. It was okay. I might read the second… or I might just go look at its end pages at the bookstore. I love those end pages!