"The Snow Queen's Shadow," Jim C. Hines

Pros: Gripping, emotional story of the princesses we’ve come to know and love
Cons: Make sure you’re familiar with the previous books to get the maximum emotional impact
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Queen Beatrice is dying, but Snow has a plan to save her. Unfortunately, such powerful magics are more than a little dangerous, and a shattered mirror sets off a chain of events that will alter the lives of the princesses forever. The demon it sets loose upon the world distorts the vision of those it touches, causing them to see only the worst in everything around them. Soon even best friends and spouses are set against each other, and whole kingdoms are in peril. Worst of all, the first person to fall under the demon’s spell is Snow White, and she takes a special interest in young prince Jakob.


 

The Snow Queen’s Shadow is book four in Jim C. Hines’s Princess Novels. I highly recommend reading the whole series, starting with The Stepsister Scheme, continuing in The Mermaid’s Madness, and then on into Red Hood’s Revenge. You don’t need to have read all of them to understand and enjoy this one (somehow I managed to miss Red), but you definitely won’t get the maximum emotional impact from this book unless you’re familiar with the characters and their interrelationships. Besides, it’s an utterly fantastic series that deserves to be read from start to finish. It takes on the question of what happens after the “happily ever after” in fairy tales, and the results are (by turns) hilarious, touching, heart-warming, and tragic. Our main characters are, in essence, the three princesses found in the tales of Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, but their tales definitely diverge from the sanitized children’s tales we read today! One is still a princess; one is a powerful witch; and one is a deadly fighter. All three aid Queen Bea (Cinderella’s mother-in-law) in taking care of various… problems… the kingdom of Lorindar encounters.

I absolutely love the series as a whole, and The Snow Queen’s Shadow definitely crowns Hines’s achievement. I sat glued to my seat as I read, unable to put the book away until I’d found out what happened. The stakes are incredibly high in this one, and there aren’t any easy answers for our heroines. The characters have so much depth, and the plot is gripping, tense, and perfectly paced. I know this all sounds a little vague, but I’m trying desperately to give away as little as possible—so much of what happens in this installment is a revelation, and it’s worth discovering for yourself as you go.

If you enjoyed any of the other books in this series at all, and have any emotional stake whatsoever in what happens to the main characters, then be sure to read The Snow Queen’s Shadow!

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