Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

17 March, 2014 Reviews 13 comments

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

Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree DespainThe Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Series: Into the Dark #1
Published by Egmont USA on March 11, 2014
Pages: 496
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.

Honestly, I was really hoping that The Shadow Prince would bring something new into the Greek mythology genre, because I was getting sick of being bombarded by ALL THE PERCY JACKSON THINGS. (I liked the series in its time, sure, but really. Enough is enough.) And look, Persephone myth!

In short, despite my misgivings about the romance aspect, I was looking forward to reading this.

That said, this is decidedly a DNF review. I had to stop at around the halfway mark feeling kind of like this:

I’m not quite sure where my main issue was, but I think it started with the characters. Despain does do a nice job of differentiating between her dual PoVs, to her credit, but both of the protagonists, Daphne and Haden, had voices that constantly grated on my nerves.

Daphne is definitely the better of the two. She seems somewhat(?) sensible and, I thought, maybe even likable after a long while of trying to get used to her. She doesn’t automatically decide she’s madly in love with the mysterious boy with strange fiery powers, but she does spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about him. (Although, she does have the natural reaction, at first, of calling him a stalker and a creep. Which he is, in every way.) Her passion for music is more told than shown, perhaps as an attempt to humanize her, but I wasn’t quite feeling it. There was some golden potential for character building in Daphne’s relationship with her estranged rock-star father, Joe, but Despain doesn’t take it anywhere in the first half, which might set up a prediction for the rest of the book. Most of all, what irked me about Daphne’s entire background was that it seems built solely to get her to California so that she can meet Haden. This, overall, makes her flatter than any heroine I want to spend time reading.

Haden, on the other hand, I had trouble even reasoning with. From the very beginning, he displays an utter contempt for anything and everyone – including his own memories. I’m not sure if this is meant to make him seem “cool” or more masculine or something, but he comes off as having no principles at all. He throws around phrases like “feeble human whom I have to appease”,  which is both ridiculously pompous and despicably despicable. (In other words, far too despicable to be a love interest, thank you very much.) If I hadn’t read the synopsis, I would have thought of Haden as the villain for a great deal of time. His massive ego despite his incapability to do anything in his world-shaking mission right is downright anger-inducing.

Long story short, I wanted to punch both of the protagonists for most of the time. I also had a lot of trouble believing that such incompatible characters could ever fall in love.

I really wasn’t feeling that there was anything original in the storyline, as far as I got. There was the whole “girl meets magical boy, oh, turns out she’s a magical girl!” thing in the foreground, which seems to be a staple of paranormal romance nowadays. Then there was another “girl achieves her dream by being the most phenomenal singer ever” to the side, which I was most assuredly not a huge fan of. And then on Haden’s side, “guy needs to save the world by seducing a girl…? okay” was playing out in a rather clunky fashion.

The writing style is also very simplistic, with an overwhelming majority of the text being tell tell tell rather than show. Case in point: “Something weird is definitely going on in this place.”

No lie, that actually appears in the book.

Now please, I would like my minutes back.

Christina Han
Christina's just that awkward, left-handed girl in the corner with the glasses and terrible reflexes. She also has a mild phobia of typos, a frightening "judging face", and a passionate dislike for trigonometry, all of which she diffuses by reading.
Christina Han

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13 Responses to “Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain”

  1. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    I had such high hopes for The Shadow Prince, but I don’t want to read about a boy who thinks he’s the best thing since fried eggs! And I also don’t want a story where the full plot seems to be about falling in love rather than, you know… actually saving the world.

    Great review, Christina!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…#Cover Reveal: Wolf in Gucci Loafers (Tales of the Harker Pack #2) – Tara LainMy Profile

  2. Anya

    I’m only 30% into this one but the whole Boon thing in general kind of creeps me out. How can I get behind a guy who has set out to trick the heroine into dying in the underworld? Also all the tropes *dies under them*. I read Strange Sweet Song last week, so I’m a bit over the whole musical heroine thing too, just not a good time for me for this one I think, haha.
    Anya recently posted…Between by Kerry Schafer {3 Stars}My Profile

  3. Natalie M.

    Yup, definitely staying away from this one. Greek mythology books are so hard to get right and I’ve yet to find one that matches up to Percy Jackson (except Antigoddess)

  4. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I definitely agree with everything you said, but I still found myself enjoying this book in the end. There was something fun about all the wrong things. Normally I would have been annoyed too, but perhaps it was just the right book at the right time for me 🙂 It’s a shame it didn’t work for you!
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday 31. Spring list.My Profile

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