Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:
Synopsis for The Shadow Queen (from Goodreads):
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.
Author: C J Redwine
# of Books: 4 (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover (#1 & #2); Audiobook (#3 & #4)
**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
I really enjoyed Redwine’s Defiance Trilogy for its strong characters and thrilling plotline, so I was eagerly awaiting her next series. Not only did The Shadow Queen have an awesome cover but I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling and I knew Redwine would do a great job.
This book was one of my top TBR picks of 2016, but some not so favourable reviews scared me away from grabbing it right away. But when I reread the synopsis in December 2016, I just knew I had to give it a shot.
What I Liked:
The premise in this series is that each kingdom is going to get its own retelling and I could not be more excited for that! Each kingdom is so unique and has its own little quirks so I can’t wait to uncover them.
The world itself is easy to understand and easy to visualize. Redwine doesn’t drone on about the setting but she doesn’t bypass it either. She finds that right balance to get you acquainted with the kingdoms without boring you.
I’m not sure how many people watch ABC’s Once Upon a Time but Lorelai reminded me a lot of Snow (and not just because they are both inspired by Snow White). She’s a kickass lead with a heart of gold but she also has her own flaws. I like that she isn’t perfect and I like that she isn’t defenceless and requires a “prince” to save her from her troubles. And the same can be said about Kol–he isn’t some flawless character either.
The cast as a whole was a lot of fun. It was easy to root for the good guys and despise the bad guys (you always need a good villain). They were all so likeable to me and that made me want to read more about their story. And there were some heartwarming moments as well.
–The Loose Retelling–
I like that this story wasn’t so focused on the retelling. That it isn’t a cut and dry Snow White story. It follows its own path and borrows some key features of the Snow White fairy tale along the way. It’s very reminiscent of The Lunar Chronicles in that respect where the fairy tale serves as the base but the plot goes its own way.
What I Didn’t Like:
–It Was that Little Bit too Long–
Somewhere around the latter half of the book, I started to get a little bored. Which was weird because things were happening–it wasn’t like the characters were just sitting around waiting; there was plenty of action. I think I just wanted to get to the climax that little bit sooner. One plot device in particular seemed like it was just regurgitated in a slightly different way after it had been resolved and that really slowed down the story for me.
Otherwise, the pacing was great and the story kept my attention.
My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:
Like I said above, I’m excited to explore more of these kingdoms. I’m super glad that this story isn’t going to be dragged out across multiple volumes.
–April 13, 2017– Book #2: The Wish Granter
I was really curious to see how the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale would be brought to life in The Wish Granter and I wasn’t disappointed. While the fairy tale itself is pretty classic, Redwine had some great creative twists.
The first being that Teague is fae–such a simple thing but one that is perfect. Faerie characters are known for their deception and tricky deals with others; perfect for a Rumpelstiltskin character. It also helps that he is a pretty evil dude that you can’t help but hate (in that great way you can detest a villain).
As for the heroes–I really loved Ari. It’s nice to have a strong heroine who isn’t strong because she can physically kick ass. Ari is intelligent, compassionate and you can’t help but root for her. She also has great character growth throughout the story. Sebastian was much of the same. I really liked how he evolved as a character throughout.
And the romance was just adorable. One of my new favorite couples. They just had great chemistry in all aspects and I loved every scene they had together.
–February 22, 2019– Book #3: The Traitor Prince
Much like its predecessors in the series, this story it all the right notes. I loved its premise of an arena battle and deceptive politics. Nothing is really overly surprising or shocking but everything together makes for an entertaining story.
But what I really loved where the lead characters. That’s one of the highlights of this series for me: the fantastic characters and their ability to evolve and grow. They are both strong in their own ways already but that doesn’t stop them from learning and adapting. And it makes their romance all the cuter for it.
My only thing about this book was the pacing. Much like the first book in the series, it just lagged a little in the middle for me. However, I loved the audio production and it kept my full attention.
–September 28, 2019– Book #4: The Blood Spell
When I started this novel, I almost thought it was going to be a Rumpelstiltskin retelling but then I remembered that we already did that. Which is why I think this is one of the more refreshing takes on Cinderella because it is a pretty loose retelling.
The start was a little dry for me because the plot isn’t all that layered until much later in the novel. I also think that because you get multiple POVs, including the villain’s, that some of the suspense that could have been generated was lost.
Where the slowness worked for me was with the romance. The slow burn relationship that developed was perfect and I couldn’t get enough of it!
My Rating: 4/5
The Shadow Queen 4/5 | The Wish Granter 4/5 | The Traitor Prince 4/5 | The Blood Spell 4/5
With any fairy tale retelling, you’re going to get comparisons and similar plot lines. (The source material is the same of course). But Redwine does a good job of creating an entertaining read that has its own unique twists on a story that has been done again and again.
Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, subtle romance, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike magic use, want a series that follows the same characters