The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Book One of the Into the Dark series
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I read The Dark Divine (by this author) a few years ago, and enjoyed it! At the time, I was avoiding all vampire/werewolf books, but that one caught my attention. Sadly, I've yet to read the rest of the series, but I liked The Dark Divine. When I heard about this book almost a year ago, I was really excited! I love all things mythology, and Despain is definitely a talented writer. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed this book as well, but this time, I hope to read the entire series.
Haden is sent to the human world to bring Daphne back. Daphne moves from Ellis Fields to Olympus Hills on account of her father gaining custody rights. Haden screws up pretty badly, and has to move mountains to convince Daphne to come with him. But things aren't that easy, as the pair quickly find out. More is at stake than bringing a Boon back to the Underrealm. And both Haden and Daphne find that neither of them want to go... but at what price?
This book is quite long, but it's a roller-coaster of a novel! I admit, the ENTIRE book was a bit lengthy, and probably could have been condensed a bit (maybe in the four-hundred-page range?). But, I really like how Despain made this book long. Like, every scene had a purpose, most likely to show us more about Dahpne's life, or Haden's character, or the mythology and customs of the Underrealm.
This book is split into two first-person perspectives - Haden's and Daphne's. As usual, I think I preferred Haden's point-of-view, which is almost no surprise, because the book starts with his perspective. It's not that I didn't like Daphne - but I feel like I didn't connect with her AS MUCH as I connected with Haden. Maybe he got more pages/exposure to the audience than she did. Maybe I just didn't sympathize with her as much. Either way, I didn't NOT like her, but I didn't absolutely love her, either.
I really like Haden, though. It was so interesting to read all about his transition to the human world. I mean, the Underrealm is pretty medieval, in a sense. So, Haden had to learn about cell phones and driving and modern English slang. It was hilarious! And so cute. I definitely like Haden's personality - he is quietly a leader, subtly emotionally driven, but definitely empathetic and intelligent.
I liked the plot of the story. It seems pretty simple - bring the girl back to the Underrealm, but then everything just goes nuts. We've got Haden's father on a rampage, a missing key, a crazy manager/salesperson who supports the highest bidder, wicked shadow creatures, mysterious powers... this book is definitely made of a whirlwind of activity and adventure, twists and surprises. Some things were more predictable than others, but for the most part, this book was highly original and very enjoyable.
The romance is very subtle in this book. Yes, you can tell right away that Haden and Daphne should/will fall in love. However, it doesn't just happen. Sparks don't fly immediately (in fact, quite the opposite occurs). Haden definitely cares about Daphne a lot, and Daphne feels something for Haden. But it's not a life-changing, all-encompassing, powerful love (at least, not yet). I can't wait to read more about the development of the romance, in future books of the series.
I love the mythology and world-building of this book. Despain did a very good job of creating a distinct world, and laid the foundations with ease. I mentioned that she included a purpose to every scene - that's fantastic, because every scene gave us not only parts of the plot, but bits and pieces of the world, the characters, and so on.
I recently read another book based on mythology - and it was pretty bad. I was hesitant to read another mythology-based book so soon after reading that not-so-great one, but I think I made a good choice! I really enjoyed this book, and I'll definitely be continuing with this series.
What I Did Not Like:
I don't think there was much that I didn't like. It was long, but I read it pretty quickly. I didn't love some of the characters, but I didn't hate them either. Some parts of the plot were a bit predictable at times, but that didn't bother me much. Overall, I really liked this book. It's a four-star read though - that's the rating it *feels* like, to me.
Would I Recommend It:
Yup! Especially if you love mythology, like me (any kind of mythology). No love triangle, no boredom, no intolerable heroine (or hero). This book was pretty great! I'm glad I had the chance to read it. I'm just going to warn you - don't expect a powerful, dynamic romance (like the synopsis might imply). I don't want anyone to be disappointed. Despain has the entire series to develop the romance to what readers might want to see.
4 stars. I can't wait to read the second book! It will be interesting to see where Despain takes this series.
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