Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Series: Into the Dark #1
Published by Egmont
Published on: March 11 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
Generally speaking, there are two types of YA books. There are YA books that take place in the modern world in which the MC(s) are 18 or almost 18 and therefore an “adult” and not completely subject to the rules and restrictions of their parents, OR they take place in a post-apocalyptic or fantasy world where age is only obliquely relevant b/c there’s no such thing as high school, and everyone from adolescence onward is expected to contribute like an adult. Then there are YA books that are fully immersed in the high school culture, complete with mean girls, stifling parental units, and no-one-understands-me-I’m-so-alone mentalities.
I very much enjoy many of the former . . . less so the latter. HOWEVER, that is not the genre’s fault. It is my own personal preference. I regularly gift YA books that I probably wouldn’t enjoy much myself to my 14 y.o. sister, and she LOVES them. The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain is one such book.
The basic premise:
Daphne Raines feels smothered by her mother. In Daphne’s defense, her mom truly is a hard case—she refuses to ever let Daphne leave the tiny town they live in. As in N-E-V-E-R. The girl has had her learner’s permit for over a year, but she can’t get her driver’s license b/c she can’t accrue the required practice driving hours in said tiny town, and her mom won’t let her go anywhere else to get them. Why not? you ask. Because BAD things are out there in the world and they will get you (think Mother Gothel from Tangled only with good intentions). So when Daphne’s deadbeat (God of Rock) dad suddenly shows up, claiming that a judge has granted him full custody, and that he’s whisking her away to California where he’s enrolled her in an elite, private school that will nurture her musical talent, Daphne immediately agrees to go.
Haden Lord is the disowned son of Ren Hades, King of the Underworld. Ceaselessly mocked and ridiculed by his peers (including his twin brother, the favored son), Haden has a burning desire to prove his worthiness. So when the Oracle handpicks him to be Champion, the only Champion who can complete some undisclosed task, Haden latches on to the opportunity to redeem himself. But when the time comes for Haden to travel to the Overworld, all he knows about his mission is that if he has any hope of overcoming his disgrace (for actions unknown), he must find and convince Daphne Raines to go through the Persephone Gate and return with him to the Underworld in six months time.
Despain has taken the modern world and overlaid it with Greek mythological nuances. Except that nuance implies subtlety, and subtlety is what this book sorely lacks. The private school that both Daphne and Haden are to attend is Olympus Hills High and it is located in the affluent Olympus Hills gated community. The tiny town that Daphne grew up in is Ellis Fields. The bar where Daphne’s dad makes his deal with the proverbial devil is called Crossroads. If Daphne had a horse, it would probably be named Pegasus. We get it.
The Shadow Prince is a book that will hold immense appeal for it’s target demographic. It’s straight-forward. Daphne is a strong-ish heroine who refuses to stand idly by when someone tries to dictate her life choices. Haden is a wonderfully broken specimen of a teenage boy. Simon is creepily evil. And who doesn’t love a tiny fuzzball of a black kitten that morphs into a three-headed, car-sized monstercat when it’s angry? BUT this is no boundary-crossing YA novel. If you’re like me (WAY out of high school), I would suggest that you stick to buying this book for your younger family members/children-of-friends. They will love it, and you will be saved the aggravation.