Friday, March 21, 2014

REVIEW: "The Shadow Prince" by Bree Despain

The Shadow Prince (Into the Dark, #1)
The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
(Into the Dark #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon 
Author Website

For Ages 13+
Young Adult -- Paranormal

Egmont -- March 11, 2014
Ebook, 512 pages
Received from Edelweiss

Retelling, Greek Mythology, Dual Points of View

Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

"I did the unforgivable the day my mom died and for that I've been punished every moment of my life."


The Shadow Prince is a fun and creative retelling of the Hades/Persephone myth with traces of Orpheus/Eurydice thrown in.  The characters are (for the most part) engaging and well-developed while the plot slowly revealed itself through world building and a sweet, but slow-burning teen romance.

My favorite part of this book was the character of Haden.  Haden is an Underlord, immortal beings who have connections with the Greek god Hades.  Despite his disgraced past, he is chosen by an Oracle to go into the mortal realm and retrieve a Boon, a human girl to act as consort in the Underworld (for lack of a better explanation and spoilers).  I loved the way that Despain portrayed Haden's fish out of water story.  He is obviously very awkward in the human realm, but I thought it made him endearing especially when he got to experience things such as music and cars for the first time.  There is a lot of mystery associated with Haden and why he is loathed by the rest of the Underworld that kept me invested in his journey from beginning to end.

I also liked Haden's destined "Boon", Daphne Raines.  She starts out as a typical YA heroine who is dealing with a major life change which has her starting a new school and dealing with unknown supernatural forces.  But, she did step out of the mold, especially at the end, with her fairly mature reaction to her father's news and her genuinely nice nature.  I also enjoyed figuring out the mystery of Daphne's own unique gifts and how they related back to the underworld.  One thing that really helped me connect with Daphne was the fact that the story is told in alternating points of view so I was able to see situations through her eyes and Haden's.

There is a romance between Haden and Daphne, but I appreciated the fact that the author did not fall back into the old insta-love theme.  It takes time for them to trust one another (especially on Daphne's part with the whole Underlord thing) and that is shown through their daily interactions.  Like they should, Daphne and Haden become friends before venturing into the world of romance.  It was also nice to see a YA hero who is not afraid to express his feelings while still acting like a teenaged boy.

Besides Haden and Daphne, Bree Despain gives readers a large, eclectic cast of characters through the scenes in the Underworld and the mortal realm.  Some of them fell into stereotypical roles like the mean girl and the creepy, omnipresent big bad villain.  But, I did enjoyed getting to see the development of such characters as Dax (Haden's guide who failed in his own Boon attempt six years earlier), Garrick (an Underworld servant), and especially Daphne's rock star father, Joe, whose past is much more developed than I expected at the beginning of the story.

I do have to mention (though) a few issues that I had while reading.  The Shadow Prince is really long (500+ pages) and the beginning is pretty slow-going so it took time for me to get into it.  I understand that the author had to develop the world, but I want to make sure future readers are aware so that they don't give up too early.  Also, while I really liked the formal/stiff way that Haden talked while in the mortal world, I found a few inconsistencies with this towards the end.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and am definitely looking forward to the sequel.  There were a few minor issues, but I think it stands out in the sometimes bloated world of YA paranormal.  Highly recommended!

I received a free copy of this book from Egmont via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Blush -- Kisses with no/minor touching.


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