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review 2017-01-16 00:00
The Shadow Queen
The Shadow Queen - C.J. Redwine I'll be honest, this probably isn't a book I would have normally went out and purchased, however, I received an ARC of 'The Wish Granter', book #2 in the Ravenspire series, and sequel to 'The Shadow Queen' and I was intrigued enough to give the series a try (great marketing by Balzer + Bray). I opted to go with the audio version on audible which is my preferred format for reading high fantasy, especially book 1 in a series containing unique names and places with difficult pronunciations that would slow me down where I reading the hardcopy. The narrator, Khristine Hvam, did a good job, not a great job, I would have liked to see a bit more of a range of contrast when narrating the different characters, especially the villain, but overall she captured the essence of the story and sufficiently gave it a life and a voice. I would listen to her narration for other books in the future.

The Shadow Queen is a retelling of snow white in which Lorelai, the teenage heroine escaped the wrath of her evil aunt turned stepmother, Irina, when she was a young girl. Irina has assumed that both Lorelai and her younger brother, Leo, were killed along with their father when I Reena bewitched the kingdom and took over the crown. However, rumors of Lorelai's existence cause Irina to negotiate a blood oath with Kol - the young and newly appointed king of Elder, who has the ability to transform from human to Dragon at will -to hunt down Lorelai the rightful queen of Ravenspire, and return with her heart. The blood oath ensures that if Kol fails at this mission he will die but if he succeeds Irina has agreed to use her magic to save his people, the kingdom of Elder from the certain annihilation brought on by an opposing force that is quickly closing down upon them. To guarantee his cooperation, Irina takes Kol's human heart as collateral, leaving him with only his predatorial dragons heart, as she sends him out to do her bidding.

Will Irina succeed in destroying Lorelai, the last and only threat that could take away her crown and reclaim her birthright as the queen of Ravenspire or has Irina greatly underestimated the strength and power of Lorelai's magic and the loyalty of her friends and followers???

Overall, I rate this story with 3.5 stars. It wasn't my favorite book of all time but it wasn't horrible either. I found the characters to be a bit flat and the storyline was quite predictable, but considering this was a retelling of a fairytale I guess that was to be expected. It was entertaining enough but lacking in any real substance but I will continue to read C.J. Redwine and look forward to book 2 in the Ravenspire series, The Wish Granter, said to be a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and from what I can tell from the synopsis, has completely different characters altogether, which is a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. I definitely highly recommend the audio version opposed to the regular print version of this book.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog
http://www.readwithme207.blogspot.com
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review 2016-08-14 17:55
Review: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
The Shadow Queen - C.J. Redwine

Unexpected in all of the best ways. I picked this up because I basically read as many fairy tale retellings as possible, it's my preferred genre. And it works as a retelling of Snow White, but also as a standalone fantasy novel with extremely solid world building. As a matter of fact, it's some of the best, most thoughtful world building I've seen in YA since the days of Anne McCaffery. Not to heavy on the political, a la A Song of Ice and Fire, but not just throwing everything out there and seeing what sticks without explanation either.

But what surprised me the most was the slow burn of the romance, which doesn't even show up until literally halfway through the novel and handles it with maturity and pacing that a short book like this usually convinces you that it can't afford. It's actually about them getting to know each other, fancy that! And the death of an important character is handled so sensitively, and the subject of grief, which is something I know too much about lately, is extremely well written and developed on the page.

 

Tone-wise, it's somewhere between Snow White and the Huntsman and TV's Once Upon a Time, and obviously influenced by both. I've also seen it compared to the Grisha Trilogy, though Redwine actually seems aware of Slavic and Teutonic culture and mythology past the casual use of a name or word. 

 

Also refreshing to see black characters that are just called 'black' and not described as having 'warm brown skin' or other descriptors I see white authors use a lot, though the characters in question tend to fall into trope-y roles in the book: Gabril = the caretaker, the nursemaid, if you will; Trugg = the brutish, large, sexually overactive male. Etc.

The book isn't perfect, but its good elements were so strong, I probably gave it a higher rating just because it felt so refreshing. There are some drawbacks. The beginning seemed rushed and confusing; I didn't realize that the queen and Irina had been sisters, and when it was brought up,I still didn't quite understand what was happening. I couldn't fault the book for getting to the meat of the story as quickly as possible, but I could have read an extra twenty pages if it let me understand more clearly what was happening.

I will definitely be reading more of Redwine's work in the future!

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review 2016-07-17 14:48
Audiobook Review: The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1) by C.J. Redwine
The Shadow Queen - Tantor Audio,C.J. Redwine,Khristine Hvam

My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.

 

Let me start out by saying that I’m not a huge fan of young adult books. I do read them, but I’m pretty picky about it. So when I say that I didn’t love this book, it is very likely a “it’s not you, but me” issue. I had read several great reviews of this book before they were offering the audio for review. I thought it sounded really interesting. Then when I saw the audio come up, I decided to give it a try. Especially after seeing who the narrator was in Khristine Hvam. Now I had not listened to her in the past, but I had heard really great things about her.

 

This is a retelling of Snow White (which I really only know the story from the Disney movie, not from the original Grimm’s Brother’s version, though that is something I plan to remedy very soon). You have a king with children whose wife dies and he remarries. When he dies, the new queen is evil and does horrible things. The children flee to keep their lives. Both the queen and the princess (and rightful heir to the throne) are witches or mardushkas as they call them in this story.

 

The Huntsman is a dragon who is a king in his own right. The evil queen sends him out to find and kill the princess, which was more than he bargained for. He was just trying to seek help to fight the trolls that were attacking his land. He thought he was just supposed to track the princess, he had not planned on killing her. He learned the hard way not to make deals with evil queens, but I guess he also had know way to know how evil she was.

 

This story wasn’t all bad. It was in a really well built world. The magic was well thought out. I was just not a huge fan of the characters and I’m a very character driven reader. If I don’t like the characters, I tend to not enjoy the book. Lorelai, our princess, just wasn’t very likeable. Yes, she was a good character. She was wanting to do the right thing by her family and her people. I just didn’t like her. Kol, The Huntsman, was a better character. I liked him a lot more. He had a lot he had to overcome and struggle to keep his humanity. The romance between the two of them wasn’t well done. It seemed awkward to me. It was just too much of a struggle.

 

I’m not 100% sure if this book is a young adult. They really never mention the age of the kids. I guess it could be new adult, but it had more of a young adult feel, so that is what I’m going with. Like I said, I’m really picky about young adult. I might read one or two books a year, if that, so if you like young adult fantasy books, I would recommend you give this one a try. You might like it more than I did.

 

You can check out these other blogs who did enjoy the story.
Between Dreams and Reality
My Nook Books and More
Caffeinated Book Reviewer

 

Narration

As I said, this is my first book with Khristine Hvam. I have to say, I really enjoyed her narration. I thought she did a great job with both the male and female characters. I thought that she really brought out the tone of the scene and I had no problem figuring out each character. I do plan to search her out for more books with her as the narrator.

 

**I like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Source: www.hotlistens.com/the-shadow-queen-audiobook-by-c-j-redwine-review
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review 2016-06-19 16:50
The Shadow Queen
The Shadow Queen - C.J. Redwine

This Snow White re-telling involves a magic wielding, fugitive princess battling the evil queen with the help of seven dragons, a mind-linked bird and a mind-linked huntsman/king/dragon. It's a little different, to say the least.

 

Lorelai and her brother Leo are on the run from evil queen Irina, who killed their family and took Lorelai's throne and kingdom. Both Lorelai and Irina are mardushkas with powerful magic and we know we are going to get a big showdown between the two, but only if Lorelai can stay alive long enough to fight Irina face to face.

 

Our huntsman is a young man named Kol, who recently became king of a nearby kingdom after losing his family. Ogres are attacking his kingdom and desperate to save his people, he asks Irina for help. She agrees to use magic to take care of his ogre problem, in return, she sends him to kill Lorelai and bring back her heart. I didn't quite understand why Kol and his draconi friends couldn't take care of the ogre problem themselves considering their powerful abilities to shift into dragons. I didn't feel there was enough worldbuilding. There was so much more that I wanted to know and see and understand.

 

Lorelai's magic, and magic in general, was a bit of a mystery to me. It seemed like she didn't learn to use her magic, instead she makes up the spells as she goes along. All the years she is on the run she is careful not to use her abilities on anything Irina has touched because she is afraid that using her magic will alert Irina. This made me question how exactly she was able to train and become powerful enough to fight the queen.

 

When Lorelai uses her magic to heal a creature, she creates an unusual connection with the human or animal, allowing her to see into their minds and share her thoughts with them. She does this with her bird named Sasha and also with Kol throughout the book. The majority of her dialogue with Kol happens in their minds which must look pretty awkward to everyone else in the room. I would think people would notice and question their odd behavior. I know I would be wondering why they keep staring at each other and making random facial expressions or breaking out in laughter for no obvious reason.

 

There was plenty of action, dragons and a bit of romance. Overall, this was a good re-telling. In the future, I would like to see Redwine delve deeper and give us more details and a better understanding of the world she created.

 

-SW

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review 2016-05-14 03:37
The Shadow Queen - C.J. Redwine

I received this book in an Epic Reads giveaway.

I actually really enjoyed this book. It was a creative retelling of a fairy tale that has been told many, many times. But I think Redwine's adaptation was pretty unique and I like the direction she took it, especially in regards to some of the weirder/creepier aspects of the original version (waking up to true love's kiss, the queen sending the huntsman out for the princess' heart). The story was written in a way that made sense.

I also liked that the romantic element of the story was laid out in a more realistic way. The relationships were not so fantastical that they are completely unbelievable. They develop over time in a way that isn't too over the top.

My favorite aspect of the book was the characters. I think Redwine created some complex characters in this book and I especially liked Lorelai. She was touch and powerful, but still was vulnerable at times without being whiny. She was a great female character with good depth.

The writing was good and the plot was fantastic. It had me hooked from page one.

Also, dragons.

So this is a definitely great read for people who like fairy tale retellings and are looking for a new take on things.

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