Release date: February 23, 2016
A dark epic fantasy, inspired by the tale of Snow White, about an exiled princess hunted by a spelled prince who must defeat the dangerous and powerful evil queen enslaving her kingdom
To say I was excited for Redwine’s next book is an understatement. I was looking forward to finally reading this and ‘first book of the new year’ seemed to fit. So, the story is a retelling of Snow White, with Lorelai as the princess who escapes her new stepmother (who is also her aunt) after trying unsuccessfully to weaken her hold over the kingdom. In this version, Lorelai is also a mardushka (a sorceress/witch) and like Irina, can control the heart of anything via touch. She has been on the run for nine years with her younger brother and the palace guard who brought them up, and has been using this time to carefully and strategically plan her attack on the false queen who has been choking the kingdom dry. She also has an awesome bloodthirsty gyrfalcon who she can speak telepathically to – I’ll come back to that later.
From the neighbouring kingdom, Kol is a Draconi (yep, he’s a dragon!) prince who recently became king after his parents and the crown prince died in an ogre invasion. To protect his kingdom from the ogres, he approaches Irina for her magic in exchange for money to save her starving kingdom. Irina instead wants him to hunt down Lorelai, who had saved his life before when he entered her kingdom. But under a blood oath and a spell, he is turned into a predator. The thing about Kol is that despite being a warrior, he can not spill innocent blood. So, he tries to control himself from killing her, and Lorelai on her part keeps trying to save him. They share a bond, some amusing conversations and soon they are drawn to each other.
There were many parts of the story I particularly enjoyed. The whole mardushka magic of it, of trying to bend a heart versus pleading to it – a nice contrast between dark and light aspects of the same magic. Lorelai, simply by being empathetic, learned to master something that took Irina years. I also loved the ‘seven dwarfs’ of this story – who were all scared of the gyrfalcon. Speaking of that bird, Sasha was such an amazing character. The way she kept coaxing Lorelai to eat raw mice or squirrels, and how she was so protective of her human, and special mention to the time where Kol entered into a staring match with Sasha and lost. About Kol and Lorelai, well, they had a beautiful bond; it was not legendary or anything but sweet how they understood each other so well. As for the story, though, I felt it was too simplistic for a fantasy. The plot was pretty straightforward and action-packed, and the world-building did not get much mention as a result. However, I am looking forward to the next book in this series, and have a feeling it has something to do with that dark enchantress in the south?
Received a free galley from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss; this does not influence my opinions or the review.