A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Shadow Queen is the first book in the magic-heavy, fairy tale-influenced Ravenspire series by the author of the popular Defiance trilogy. This is a straight-up teen fantasy novel with a little kissing, a little drinking, and much fantasy action/violence. The most jarring scene is not fantasy violence, however, involving a mother killing her young children and then herself with a knife because her family is starving to death. Also, close family members of main characters die, and one of the characters loses family twice as evil magic kills them and flees helplessly both times. The other hears about the deaths of three family members and attends their funerals. The rest of the violence is all about spells causing explosions and all kinds of creatures to attack. People die in prisons, and one heart is taken out -- luckily the victim has a spare. The main characters are both strong and willing to make big sacrifices to defeat evil. It's the female hero who wields the most power with her magic and the male hero who works through the most internal struggles, to believe in himself and fight off magically enhanced instincts that tell him to do harm.
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What's the story?
Ever since Irina killed off her father the king with her evil magic, Lorelai, her brother Leo, and Gabril, their loyal guard, have been in hiding. And ever since that day Lorelai has been plotting to take over the throne, working on her own powerful magical abilities. A plan is in place to start to feed the starving people around her kingdom and quietly build up their loyalty. But her plans suddenly change when Gabril is injured and she and Leo head into a village in secret to find him medicine. It's the same village where Queen Irina makes a surprise visit and uses her magic against them, killing Leo. Now Lorelai is both devastated and more determined to beat Irina than ever. Especially when rumors reach the queen that Lorelai is alive. Before Lorelai can come for her, Irina gets a special visitor, Kol, the new king of Eldr where warriors like him can shape-shift into dragons with all their innate predator abilities. Kol is desperate to fight ogres on his land and asks for Irina's help. In exchange she takes his human heart, leaving the dragon one intact, and fixes a special collar that won't let him rest until he hunts down and kills Lorelai.
Is it any good?
Sometimes rushed, sometimes confusing, but with great hero leads and high on cinematic-style action, this magic fantasy is satisfying overall. Especially when the two heroes, powerful Lorelai and charming Kol, get to spend time in each other's heads. Things really click when they're forced into a mind-reading relationship, and author C.J. Redwine handles the complications of such a bond really well. Also, things click when the magical spells start flying.
A few key parts of the story don't gel quite as well, such as when Lorelai loses her brother and Kol, under Irina's influence, tries to kill her. Both times Lorelai puts off dealing with it until scenes later. Also, chapters where Irina takes over as narrator do the most rushing, through important points about her sister and her magic, why she has a magic mirror, and her love interest. Overall, they're less interesting than chapters with Kol and Lorelai, so lucky for readers there's more time spent with the heroes and their inevitable romance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about magic and dragons. What do you think of the portrayal of both here? How is the magic here different from the kinds in other books you've read? And how are the dragons different?
There are many fast-paced scenes of spells bringing explosions and biting bugs. How does that violence seem different from a scene where a mother kills her starving children?
Will you keep reading this series? There aren't many hints about what Book 2 will bring. What do you imagine?
- Author: C. J. Redwine
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters, Fairy Tales, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: February 16, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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