We love fairy tale retellings! But they can’t just tell us the story we already know – they have to bring something new and different to the table. That’s why we’re so excited about C.J. Redwine’s new book, The Shadow Queen! It’s a retelling of Snow White, but also so much more. Here’s what C.J. has to say about her twist on this classic fairy tale.
C.J. Redwine on Turning Grimm’s Snow White into an Epic Fantasy
I grew up devouring volumes of Grimm’s fairy tales. Every week my mom would take us to the public library, and I’d check out the 20 book max. And every week one of those books would be a volume of fairy tales.
As I grew older and my writing skills developed, I realized that the fairy tales in those volumes read like a detailed synopsis of a much bigger story. I wanted to know why the villains did what they did. I wanted to connect with the heroine’s personality. I wanted to see the fantasy world unfold in front of my eyes. So, I decided to turn some of my favorite fairy tales into dark epic fantasy novels. I started with Snow White.
Two things were important to me as I began thinking about the story. One, I wanted my story to feel fresh and unique so that even those familiar with the fairy tale I used for inspiration would get swept away in something very different. And two, even while creating a new, different story, I wanted to include the recognizable elements of the original fairy tale (albeit in a different way) as fun little Easter eggs for readers to find.
Here’s a list of the most recognizable elements from Snow White, and how I incorporated them into my story.
1. The Wicked Stepmother:
For this, of course I used a wicked stepmother. But I added some twists to their relationship. The stepmother didn’t start out hating the princess—the opposite, in fact. And while she was already doing some wicked things, they weren’t aimed at the princess, and she would argue that they weren’t wicked at all. She sees herself as the heroine of the story, the one who has been wronged, and she uses her magic to try to take back the life she thinks she deserves. Also, she isn’t jealous of the princess’s beauty. Instead, the conflict comes down to a struggle for dominance between two females of equal power.
2. The Innocent Princess:
I kept the innocence and good intentions, but ditched the helplessness and reliance on the men in the story to save her. My princess is a fugitive from the queen who’s been on the run for nine years. She knows parkour, robs treasury wagons and gives the goods to the people in her starving, suffering kingdom, and she has a single goal in mind: defeat her stepmother the queen and take back the throne.
3. The Huntsman:
See: Prince Charming
4. The Mirror:
The queen has a magic mirror, and she uses it to scry for the missing princess’s location. She also uses it to spy on her kingdom.
5. The Dwarves:
Instead of seven dwarves, my prince (who is a Draconi … dragon shape-shifter) has seven close friends. A seven dragon army, baby!
6. Prince Charming:
Trapped into taking the throne in his kingdom when his father and older brother are killed, my prince is left trying to save his people from an ogre invasion that is steadily destroying the land. A deal with the queen of the kingdom next door (a queen who has tremendous magical power) seems the only recourse, but that deal turns on him when the queen tricks him into having to bring her the heart of the princess.
7. Poisoned Apples:
There are nasty, magically-poisoned apples in the book, and I’m pretty sure that’s a scene no one will soon forget. It still haunts me. *shudders*
8. Snow White’s Connection to Woodland Creatures:
My princess has magical power just like the queen, and the way that power works is by merging with the heart of a living creature and then asking (princess) or demanding (queen) that the creature do their bidding. The princess once used her magic to heal a gyrfalcon, and in doing so, connected their thoughts. Sasha and the princess can communicate telepathically, which is bad news for anyone who threatens the princess. It’s all fun and games until a gyrfalcon pecks out your eye.
If you could rewrite any fairy tale, which one would you rewrite? Tell us below!
Eventually I’ll do a roundup of this incredible series, but for now, I just finished the third one, so here we go! Redwine does it again in this retelling of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. For the past ten years, Javan, the prince of Akram, has been at a boarding school trying to be the best in class to fulfill his dying mother’s last wish. But while he was away, an impostor was being groomed to take over- after all, no one has seen Javan since he was a boy, and now no one believes he is who he says he is. Now there’s a fake living in the castle, and Javan is thrown in a prison where the prisoners compete in deathly tournaments. If he wants to survive, he has to learn how to beat the system, and with the help of the warden’s slave Sajda, he thinks he has a good chance. But there are forces working against both of them, and as the two grow closer, they must decide whether or not to risk telling one another their secrets or being trapped in the prison forever. I have loved every single one of these stories, but this one so far is one of my favorites in the series. I always loved how the perspectives were from the main character, the love interest, and the villain, and I thought it always brought a well rounded story together while being stuck in one person’s head. There was magic, adventure, betrayal, and intrigue as always, and the world building that comes through with this is just incredible. I liked Javan and Sajda, and was definitely rooting for their slow burning romance. Rahim, the impostor, was a seriously creepy villain and I couldn’t stand him, which in my opinion is how you know great writing has taken place. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending, because I thought it was a bit rushed for my taste. And even though you know how most of these stories will play out, it’s such a fun journey that you don’t even care that the ending is what you expected. Everything about this book and her other ones are some of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read, and if you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend it. The other stories in this series include The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, and the newest one, The Blood Spell. Happy reading!
Book of the Month: The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine
I do believe that the majority of my month this time has been all fairy tale retellings! I guess I have to switch up my genres a bit this April. But no one does retellings, especially of the princess variety, quite like Redwine, and they always deliver. This one was a Cinderella retelling if you couldn’t tell by the pumpkin on the cover, and is about a girl named Blue who is trying to hide her magic from the world. But when her father is murdered and a cruel woman steps in to take over the shop that Blue’s father owned as well as their house, she has to find a way out without magic. Unfortunately, the only person that can help is Kellan, the prince that she’s hated since she was a child. And now that Kellan is back from boarding school and trying to find a suitable girl to marry, all he wants is to escape. But when a magical force starts terrorizing the kingdom, Kellan and Blue must work together to find out what’s causing it. And the more time the two spend together, they quickly start to realize that they may have been wrong about each other all these years. This was one of my favorites in the series, and I loved the story and the characters and, as always, the magic. Kellan was a side character in The Traitor Prince, so it was cool to see someone I was a little familiar with in this one. I loved Blue as well, and thought she was the perfect embodiment of a Cinderella character, one who is kind and brave and puts others before herself. And her chemistry with Kellan was off the charts, especially when they bantered. Another one of my favorite things about Redwine’s novels is that she always has the perspectives of the heroine, the love interest, and the villain, and they are always written so unbelievably well. If you like Cinderella, or just a really great fantasy story filled with magic and adventure and a little bit of romance, do not miss out on this one, even if you’ve never read any of her others. The other stories in this series include The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, and The Traitor Prince, which I just reviewed a few weeks ago. Happy reading!
Once, I would’ve taken those words as a romantic, sugar-coated fairytale and built a castle of dreams on them. Now, they’re a hard-won promise forged in fire and loss by a man who means every word he says. I want to brand them into my skin as proof that I still have something left to fight for.
…If being around Rachel has taught me anything at all, it’s that if a girl has made up her mind to do something, there’s no point standing in her way unless you prefer to have your dignity, and possibly your nose, ruined.
SO IM READING THIS BOOK CALLED DEFIANCE BY C.J. REDWINE AND OH MY GOODNESS ITS AMAZING AND I ALREADY KNEW THERE WAS A SECOND BOOK LIKE A TWO BOOK SERIES AND SINCE I READ HALF OF THE BOOK TODAY, I WENT ONLINE TO LOOK FOR THE SECOND BOOK AND GUESS WHAT I FOUND OUT?
I need him.
Not because I need saving. Not because he could plan our way out of this. But because on some basic, soul-deep level within me, he is the solid ground beneath my feet. The one who will move mountains to keep his promises.
The one who looks at me and sees.
Mind telling me what’s so funny?” he asked as he spooned beans onto their plates. “Nothing.” Lorelai avoided looking at Kol. “Then if nothing is funny, you two can stop grinning at each other like village idiots and start eating your dinner. I imagine tomorrow will be another difficult day.
About a young Prince who was at an academy for ten years who has his kingdom stolen by an imposter. When he returns home he is sentenced to be killed but instead is thrown into a tough prison to fight in a bi-yearly tournament. He is determined to win so he could get his freedom. He is allied with the wardens slave who has her own secrets and who desperately wants something in return.
This book is part of the Ravenspire series and a retelling of The Pauper and The Prince. I loved it because you’d never guess what twists and turns Redwine will throw at you.
Last night I finished reading a book I was given to for Christmas about 5 years ago. After receiving it, it sat on my bookshelf unread until this week when I finally read it (the guilt of not reading it was too much to ignore) and I’m glad I did.
The book is called Defiance by C.J. Redwine and is written in dual POV. The time period is postapocalyptic, it’s a mix of modern (the time-frame for this part is vague)and medieval. The title of the book is very appropriate, you quickly learn why. There is romance, but it’s not the main part of the story. It’s a surviving by skill and wits quest-ish novel. The book had been recommended to those who are a fan of Tamora Pierce, and after reading it I can see why. Now I just have to get my hands on the next book (it’s a series of 3.5).
Gregory’s laugh is ugly. “You? You’re a puny excuse of a boy who has to use big vocabulary because you don’t know how to use a sword.”
Connor abruptly reins in his horse and turns to face Gregory. His dark eyes are steady, but something burns within them. “Never mistake a man’s intellect for weakness.”
I love her.
A fierce light consumes me from the inside out. It blazes through my body until I think there’s no way I can contain it.
I don’t want to contain it.
I want it to overtake me completely.
It’s illogical. Wonderful. Almost painful.
Initially I was super excited about this book. Like crazy. OMG fantasy mixed in with romance type of crazy. And it was good. Just not as good as I was expecting. But it made me happy and the ending was huge so here we go.
The Plot: Hmm yeah cool stuff happening. Rachel, our main character, has just lost her courier father, he is presumed dead after not returning from a mission. Her guardianship (women have like no rights, they need an escort to even go for a walk, seriously) then transfers to her father’s apprentice, Logan, a man she once loved, now hates (not really). She decides to go find her father and the mysterious package he was carrying with or without Logan, and with the threat of the Commander (super evil) looming over her. Pretty straightforward premise I think. Just one thing. When and where the heck is this happening? There was no worldbuilding at all. None whatsoever. I didn’t know if this was after our modern civilization post-apocalypse, or a completely different world, or a kind of steampunky (they had tech) historical dystopian earth. It was bizarre. And it took away from the book.
Rachel Adams: Headstrong, feisty, red-haired Rachel was initially fun to read. She made a lot of stupid decisions along the way though. And then she just became plain scary. I guess in a slightly good way because I couldn’t stop reading about this crazy, revengeful girl-thing she becomes, but she really changes and not really in a good way. More like an ohmygod that’s chilling kind of way. Logan McEntire: A nerd who can fight. He’s intelligent, especially with technology; he has a dark past so he can kick-butt. However, he is really overbearing. Blah at first, then kind of protective and endearing. I’m glad he is reminded women are his equals because at first he doesn’t tell Rachel anything as if she’s too stupid. Blah once more. But he’s cute I guess.
The Commander: Whoa, evil alert. Especially with the suppress all women agenda and kill them if they walk in the street alone. Seriously, Logan’s mother….so sad. That doesn’t count as a spoiler does it? Anyway, yeah. He was awesome to hate. I hated him a lot.
The Romance: Hmm now this was…what’s the word….hurried? It was also a little peculiar. A few years ago, Rachel swears her love to Logan….he rejects her. Okay, so now she hates him right? She is forced to live with him after her father dies, and all Logan does is nothing right? But no, now they must fall in love, this time with Logan falling back and being all “I will let nothing hurt you Rachel!” But seriously, it just happened too fast! I wanted more hate, more denial, more angst! It wasn’t satisfying…
Overall: There were goods and bads I guess. The creatures were interesting, the Commander and his regime were also fascinating. The premise drew me in easily and I enjoyed reading it because of the dual POV’s even without any background. It was fun seeing what was happening in both of their heads. But it wasn’t as awesome as I had hoped it would be and that’s my final judgment.