Review: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

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“The faint aroma of apples filled the air, and the lingering stain of rot smeared the teeth of those who smiled at Irina.”

The apples in this book never sounded appealing. For a non-apple recipe that Loralei and company could have taken on the road, click here.

3/5 stars

The Story:

A Snow White re-telling with a few twists, though it stays fairly close to the classic. After the Evil Queen overtakes her kingdom, Princess Loralei becomes a fugitive determined to win back her crown.

I liked this book more than I expected to. It was an entertaining, quick read. I did dock it a few stars for gaps in the plot, a deus ex machine, if you will…. …though I suppose anyone being saved from death by true love’s kiss is a deus ex machina? Mostly, I was disappointed with the Evil Queen’s characterization. The effort was there, but no follow through.

There may be spoilers below. Tread carefully.

My Take:

Fairytale re-tellings are sticky. An author is expected to be original while also maintaining the classic feel of a beloved and well-known story. It doesn’t help that this is a very popular genre right now, some done better than others. Snow White is an especially popular re-telling for whatever reason and one that keeps popping up for me, such as this sci-fi re-telling I recently read and loved (and no, it’s not Marissa Meyer).

In addition, fairy tales (rightly so) have a bad rap on the feminist front. I recently watched Snow White and the Huntsman (boo) for the first time and despite the two main roles being female, the dialogue and plot were male dominated, the women in the movie speaking about 10 lines collectively. I prefer retellings that give female characters more autonomy and characterization. The Shadow Queen was empowering for several reasons.

  1. The Shadow Queen follows a pattern I’m noticing in some of my YA novels lately, and that’s when the author does not draw attention to female characters, but places them throughout the novel in positions of authority or in traditionally masculine roles. Guards, soldiers, leaders are female and it’s treated as normal, with little attention drawn to their gender. (Garth Nix’s Sabriel series does this well).
  2. Lorelai isn’t impressive because she’s a woman. She’s impressive for her actions and abilities. She’s not a stand alone unique female able to fight. It’s the norm. Bonus: C.J. Redwine conveys this without smacking you over the head that “Women should be allowed to…” Redwine moves beyond arguing for a world where women have equal rights to portraying a world where they just do.
  3. While she needs help and saving, Loralei does plenty of the saving herself.
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