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.The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Series: Into the Dark #1
Published by Egmont USA on March 11, 2014
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, 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.
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.