Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.
I had high hopes for The Shadow Queen, mainly because it was a Snow White retelling, and I love re-tellings. Yet The Shadow Queen fell quite short of my expectations, and it’s not really a stand-out novel.
Lorelai, Princess of Ravenspire, is a fugitive in her own kingdom. She has one mission, and that is to kill the tyrannical evil Queen of Ravenspire who killed her father, attempted to kill her, and enslaved the kingdom of Ravenspire. Lorelai possess power just like the Queen, but in order to defeat her she needs to be one step ahead – more powerful and more dangerous. When the dragon King Kol of the neighbouring kingdom of Eldr seeks Queen Irina’s protection from the Ogres overrunning his lands, he makes a bargain with Irina – hunt down Lorelai and bring the Queen her heart, and Irina will protect his kingdom. Running from both the Queen and Kol, who she has a fierce attraction too, Lorelai must figure out how to take down Irina once and for all.
The first half of The Shadow Queen was bearable, and actually quite enjoyable. Lorelai was an enjoyable protagonist – she was strong-willed, caring and self-sacrificing. Kol’s character could have been phenomenal, yet he was reduced to a 2D cardboard cutout of the most cliché love interest. His chapters were certainly my least favourite, but even worse was the insta-love romance with Lorelai – it was cringe-worthly. The temptation to skip their cheesy dialogue was strong, yet I somehow managed to resist.
The world-building was surprisingly lacking for a fantasy novel, which didn’t do much for the reading experience. Instead a lot of focus was on the characters, yet that development was cut short at the half way point with little to no character progression and an increasingly repetitive plot.
Irina was evil, yes, but she certainly was not the all-powerful foe that you would expect. I admire Redwine’s attempt to make her seem more human, but it she fell quite short. She was exceptionally easy to over-power, it seems, and the ending was certainly quite an anti-climax.
Overall not a novel I would personally recommend. Lorelai, and her brother, were the only things I really liked about The Shadow Queen, everything else was just…meh.