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.I was so excited to get an eARC of this book because I absolutely love fairy tale retellings, but The Shadow Queen just didn't live up to my expectations. This was actually kind of surprising because on the surface this novel has a lot of things going for it. There's a strong, female protagonist, betrayal, romance, magic, dragons, and nonstop action. I'll admit that I did enjoy the dragons and it gave a unique twist to the original Snow White story. In The Shadow Queen, the huntsman isn't just a dangerous hunter, he is the prince of a kingdom where everyone has two hearts - a human heart and a dragon heart. When they give control over to their dragon nature, they actually shapeshift into dragons. For the most part, though, I think Redwine tried to pack too much into one book.
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. (Goodreads).
Even though the dragons are awesome and the magic seemed interesting, we just don't get enough worldbuilding. There's not much information about the different races or the kingdoms so all these fantastical elements end up seeming like cheap additions to make this telling of Snow White seem special. If this book were several hundred pages longer I might have liked it better. As it is, I just couldn't get interested in an underdeveloped fantasy world.
The plot and characters felt pretty mediocre, which didn't help my enjoyment of the book. Kol was the only character who showed any growth at all. That is unless you want to count Lorelai going from totally lacking in self-confidence one minute to realizing she can do anything she wants the next. And while the plot has plenty of action, it feels like there's no suspense or point to it. All through the magical battles, earth-shattering magic (literally!), telekinesis, fires, and explosions, I was just kind of reading to get through the book. The romance and ending as a whole were totally predictable, so even when I did manage to finish the book it wasn't that exciting.
The Snow Queen certainly isn't a bad book, but it could have been so much better. I'd say it's still worth a look, though, if you like fairy tales and want a quick and easy read.