The Shadow Prince
Into the Dark #1
by Bree DespainAge Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Series: Into the Dark
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (March 11, 2014)
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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 didn’t really have high expectations for the Shadow Prince, the first book in the author Bree Despian’s second series (Into the Dark). Thankfully, I was hooked by a few catchy elements and this book exceeded my expectations. There is the whole mythology behind the story, the completely inappropriate-for-earth Haden’s complexes, and Daphne, our heroine, is is a musical prodigy.
Music and Myths
First, Daphne stood out to me because I used to be a singer/songwriter in my past life, and i share her dreams to be something “more” in life. So a girl with perfect pitch and with siren-like abilities is just a tiny bit attractive, especially now she has all the financial backing she could ever need through her rockstar father. I am also somewhat enthralled by the act that Daphne hears music everywhere, understanding emotions and being able to communicate (or fight back) through the tones. That is just so cool! Who cares doctors think she might be a smidgen insane? I would love that superpower!
It is amazingly obvious as you get into this story that is is all about mythology. I’m not exactly up on my greek gods and goddesses but I figured out that the Shadow Prince mixed multiple greek stories together. In fact, I felt like the blatant mythological references were great- like that the story takes place in Olympus Hills or the school musical was about Orpheus.
Countering the Complainers
Ironically, this seemed to be the complaint of some other reviewers, that obvious references to mythology made the story cheesy. I have no clue why. This is supposed to be an easy YA read, not some story with a deep layered-under vibe of a myth, but so far removed no average person will even notice it. I found the references an essential part of the plot and interesting enough that I went to refresh my memory on some classic myths at good ol’ Wikipedia. (Shhh...don’t tell anyone, but I feel smarter for it!)
In fact, I was actually surprised at the crap some of the people reviewing this gave. Of course, there are books I like more than others, and some readers and I diverge in our opinions. But, I found an abnormal amount of cruel reviews for this book, most of which gave no real basis for their rating.
The problem I had with the book was pretty much that it had a lot of high school teen drama in it. As I am not a teen, it wasn’t thrilling. But I didn’t feel like that was abnormal for a YA book. And, honestly, the high school drama was in the music class. And pretty much, teens or not, where be any musicians, there be drama. So maybe that wasn’t so weird in my own life.
The other irksome thing I found was that Daphne was just a little stupid in her bravery. She was way, way, way, too trusting. There might be something to be said for keeping your enemies close, but just going off her vibes, believing in the strange mythological world with very little questioning, and disappearing with not one, but two guys you barely know is just not that smart.
Girls, please don’t follow in her example.
The romance was sweet and advanced very slowly. There was almost an undercurrent of the classic love-triangle, but it was dissipated soon enough and I feel like there is so much unsaid, we can actually look forward to some lovin’ in the next books, without it just being break-ups because the couple is already together and how else can we make their relationship interesting?
Really, the reason this couple didn’t get too far in their love story was because of, well, let’s just call them cultural issues. Coming onto a girl by offering to kidnap her usually doesn’t make a good start for romance.
The Shadow Prince Himself
Haden’s character was gravitating; I felt the author did a pretty good job creating a backstory for him. I was a little obsessed with his strangeness from a physiological perspective. He has some pretty messed up family issues, some extremely pent-up emotions, and he has a whole bunch of issues that stem from the fact that he grew-up in the strange culture of the underworld. Like the fact that there is supposed to be “no emotion” or that it is his right and responsibility that he can just take a “boon” home. Thankfully, that at least pissed Daphne off, as it should.
Overall, seeing him adapt to the norms of earth, from language, to culture and innuendoes was kinda cool. (Think Buddy in the movie Elf, but much more buff warrior-like.) Haden really grew on me and I liked seeing him become who he should be, rather than was his past made him. Go Haden!
In addition to all the above, with shadow monsters, with the freaky “I can control you to do whatever I want you to do” Simon, the mystery of disappearing girls to solve, and trying to outrun fate- this story was more interesting than I was expecting it to be. It started out as a three, but ended as a four. I am looking forward to reading the second book!
“Inspiring the average American to change the world to end poverty and injustice.”
I've read Bree Despain's other series a few years ago and I remember devouring it. I was thinking I would fall right into the same thing with this book, but I was completely wrong. I felt that there were points of this book that seemed to drag on and on. To be frank, I even skimmed a few pages. To give you an idea, the two main characters don't even meet until 100 pages in. The action doesn't actually start to happen until the last 150 or so pages. And this book is just over 500 pages. That's a lot of pages filled with getting to know the characters more so than the world.
While I was interested in the characters, I was much more interested in the mythology of the story as well as the characters role in this mythological world (which as mentioned I didn't come to find out until the last 150 pages or so). This isn't a negative review, I really did enjoy the characters, they were interesting. Particularly, I loved the sass and feminist qualities that were within Daphne. Haden was quite naive and reading about him learning about pop culture and the way life is on Earth was quite endearing. One big plus, there is absolutely NO insta-love. NONE.
Now for the mythology, my favorite part. I loved the way that Bree Despain took her own spin on mythology. I loved all the references she placed in relating back to other mythological stories. I loved the fresh spins on the plot that I never saw coming.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the mythological aspects of it the most and I would have to say if you're a fan of mythology as well, I'd recommend this one to you.
Thank you again for letting me read this one! :)
Katie over at The Book Sphere
- Language: Mild
- Violence: Moderate
- Sexuality: Mild
Overall, I would call this a clean-read.