ARC Book Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

Posted March 10, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree DespainThe Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Series: Into the Dark #1
Published by Egmont on March 11th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Pages: 512
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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.

3 Stars

I’m not sure what to really say about The Shadow Prince, because in spite of its many and glaring faults, I found myself really enjoying this story. It’s certainly not a book that will work for every reader, but it worked for me, and I’ll look back on it rather fondly.

So the story goes that Daphne moves in with her estranged father in Olympus Hills and starts a new life there in the music program of her new school, which is her biggest passion. Quickly she meets another new student, Haden, who first tries to force her to come with him (to the Underrealm), and she later forges a friendship with. Haden is an Underlord on a mission to bring her back with him to save his people and, eventually, the world. The story alternates their perspectives, and I found it to be rather well done. Too often when there are alternating perspectives the voices either sound the same, or the male’s voice reeks of wish fulfillment. Not here though – the voices were distinctive, and Haden certainly came off as a man (though maybe his eyes prickled with tears a bit too often, considering that’s forbidden in his world).

Does the story reek of clichés? Yes. You will find all the dreaded YA clichés here. Absentee parents, mean girls, the new student – now done twice over, from both perspectives, the boy best friend who’s instantly smitten and yet friendzoned… Clichés, we gots ’em. And that really kept me from fully enjoying the story. Because while I did like certain plot progressions and events, these clichés would then rear their ugly heads and I had to resist the urge to *headdesk*. Not only that, but there was so much foreshadowing that the plot was rather obvious too. A pity, because the plot could have been way more suspenseful, and then it would have blown me away.

But The Shadow Prince instantly hooked me because of the Greek mythology, and certainly that is where this book is strongest. I absolutely adore Greek mythology, and as this book plays off of some of my favorite myths (Hades and Persephone, Orpheus and Eurydice), I was captivated. Though at times the world building gets infodumpy, I was forgiving of it because it was well researched, and to be honest, I could read about Greek mythology all day and not get sick of it. I mean, seriously, this book is like a Greek myth nerdgasm. So if you’re as big a fan of it as I am, this book is worth considering.

Neither main character really drastically stood out to me, and Haden is rather boring, but I did grow to like Daphne. She just has these little moments where she impressed me, whether it was her forgiving nature to her father, the way she stands up for her friends, or the way she’s suspicious and not instantly trusting of Haden. Their romance (which is inevitable, I mean come on) was all right. There was a bit of insta-attraction that tiptoed around the line into instalove, but it was particularly on Haden’s side, and the way it was told made me rather forgiving. I do wish there were more feels though. In this massive book, 512 pages, there was only one kiss. *sigh* And sadly the smaller “sweet” moments were not enough to make me fall in love.

Indeed this book is massive. 512 pages. I was shocked when I first saw it, and I guess the mystery in all of this is that it did captivate and engage me for the full length of the story. With all the clichés and predictable elements, it’s easy to see why other readers might give up on this. But something just got to me, and I found it very entertaining. I thought the world building was strong, and I loved the Greek mythology. I also loved Daphne’s love for music, as music is also dear to my heart. The way it was described bordered on corny, but it was nice when I let myself get swept up into it. There’s quite some action at the end, which I enjoyed, although the end was such an anti-climax. It was so “the start of the quest” “we’re just getting started” etc. and that just left me feeling a bit peeved. I guess this book laid a pretty strong foundation, but knowing that plot-wise we’ve barely even started yet? Meh. Also, the rag tag group of questers that just assembled? Kind of lame. Lexie? What? Why? =/

Summing Up:

I’m so torn on what to think of this book. I kind of want to say it’s in the rich and awesome Greek myth world akin to Percy Jackson, with all the clichés and predictability of Twilight or City of Bones. So obviously, I love one side of it: the worldbuilding and storytelling, but I felt rather lackluster about other things: the characters and the romance. Somehow the mix still kept me entertained, but I’m not fully in love.

GIF it to me straight!


Recommended To:

Hardcore fans of Greek mythology who can stand having ALL the clichés.

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5 responses to “ARC Book Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

  1. Hmmm, interesting. I just started this one last night, so it’s good to know ahead of time that I should keep away from desks while reading ;-). I think that I’ll end up enjoying it fine since I like new fantasy ideas and the whole Underworld thing seems intriguing. I also love music so that should hold my attention 😀

  2. Yes, the distinct voices were nicely done 🙂 It worked for me too, despite the cliches. I believe we have the same thoughts about this book! I liked the characters, but they aren’t very special and the romance wasn’t very good, but the mythology was awesome.

  3. I’m a big fan of mythology so this book worked for me, but I agree it was SOOOOO LONG. SO LONG. AUGH. Now that you mention all the cliches, they’re hitting me like a brick. How did I not notice them before?!

    Still, I’m super curious about the ending and hope that the next book won’t be crazy long. The first 200 pages could have been trimmed so much, and while I loved Tobin’s conspiracy theorist heart, I almost feel like he could’ve been cut completely and the book wouldn’t have suffered.

  4. I absolutely loved all the Greek mythology that was here and I loved that Daphne was not instantly smitten with Haden, despite the instant attraction thing, I was happy there was no proper insta-love.
    Somehow the tropes and the cliches worked for me.

  5. I do like Greek mythology, but I’m somewhat hesitant about picking up The Shadow Prince. It sounds like a solid story, but I’m afraid that the cliches you’ve mentioned will bother me too much and override my love of the mythological bits in the end. (That cover is pretty great though!)