The Shadow Queen
by C.J. Redwine
Balzer + Bray, February 2016, 400 pages. Fantasy, young adult.
Lorelai and her brother lost everything when their stepmother Irina killed their father and usurped the throne. Prince Kol is desperate to save his kingdom from an endless horde of ogres, and sees the foreign monarch Irina as his people's only hope. Told between these two perspectives as well as from Irina herself, this imaginative retelling of Snow White offers an exciting fantasy adventure that will leave readers excited to read more about the world of Ravenspire.
Though inspired by the classic tale of Snow White, Shadow Queen transcends the bonds of the original, introducing mystical nature mages known as 'mardushkas', a fascinating race of half-dragons, and a complex political backdrop against which Lorelai wages war against Irina. Elements from Snow White (poisoned apples, a huntsman out for blood, an evil stepmother) appear within the story, but their inclusion elevates the story through subversion of the expected rather than limit the narrative. The love sub-plot remains secondary rather than upstaging the larger struggle; it rests mainly on the development of respect rather than raging hormones (though the pair is teased at one point for having them.) There are hints throughout the story of a larger conflict brewing, but Shadow Queen wraps up neatly enough that it isn't agonizing to wait for a sequel. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to fans of both fantasy and fairy tales.