One of the last books I read last month, The Shadow Queen drew me in with its black-and-white cover, and its presence on a list of books to read while you’re waiting for King’s Cage (which I so am).
Despite the short blurb on that page specifically saying that it’s inspired by Snow White, I totally didn’t get that parallel until I had actually started reading the book (no, the dark apple on the cover didn’t tip me off either), but when I did notice it, I was on board with little nods to the original story.
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.
Unfortunately, the Shadow Queen is a pretty forgettable high fantasy story. A dethroned princess, an evil stepmother, an insta-romance and the power of true love overcoming the power of evil all together made for a read which was interesting enough, but not really compelling.
I can’t say that I was really enthralled by the Shadow Queen, and even a week after finishing it, I would struggle to tell you the names of half the characters and kingdoms. Thematically this felt a little like the Grisha trilogy, perhaps because of the Russian-sounding names and the fairy-tale aspects of the story.
While much deeper than Snow White itself, I still wasn’t entirely enamoured with The Shadow Queen. There wasn’t much that I could put my finger on for why I wasn’t sucked in (except for the insta-love), but there wasn’t really much that stood out for me either.
I noticed on Goodreads that this is part of a series, and I was wondering how it would be continued, due to the complete wrapping up of the storyline. However, when I went investigating, it turns out that the other books in the series focus on different countries in the same universe, with nods to past books. While that’s an interesting approach, there wasn’t enough in The Shadow Queen to really draw me in to go for a second adventure in Ravenspire. One for the long-term ‘maybe’ list.