Book Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

Title: The Shadow Prince
Series: Into the Dark Book #1
By: Bree Despain
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Myths, Greek, Paranormal
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Pages: 496 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA


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.

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The Shadow Prince is the first book of author Bree Despain’s new young adult series, Into The Dark, featuring a tale inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades.  The premise is a fun and interesting one, it takes the idea behind the Greek myth and the realm of Hades and creates something new and exciting.

There’s some terrific back-story and mythology to The Shadow Prince that I really liked and was one of my favorite aspects to the story. It takes elements from the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades and creates a unique myth about the race of the Underlords and Skylords. The basis of the story goes: When Persephone willingly chooses to become the first boon (think prize and bride) to enter the Underrealm and become Hade’s Queen, she ends up being cursed by her mother Demeter to never have children of her own. Hades decides to create his own children/race and ends up creating the first sons of the Underrealm who were twins. (Not before making some terrible mistakes know as the Keres.) The eldest son became the father to the Underlords race while the younger son became the progenitor of the Skylords. Later these two brothers became hated enemies to one another and from that point on all the first sons in the Underrealm become Lords, similar to a prince. They are always treated with respect and trained as warriors and champions, while second sons in the Underrealm are treated with disdain and become known as Lessers.

The Shadow Prince then goes on to explain briefly how both Hadden and his twin brother both end up being treated as first sons. When Haden’s mother realizes she is pregnant and carrying twins she makes her husband King Ren take a vow never to cast either child from the ranks as Underlords and treat both as princes and firstborn. Unfortunately, prince Hadden does something to disgrace himself in the eyes of the kingdom and his father. From that point forward Haden is determined to beat his brother at every challenge and to win back his fathers love and respect.

When an Oracle chooses Haden over his brother to go on a quest to the mortal world, he believes it’s his opportunity to regain his father’s respect. His quest is to entice and bring back Daphne Rains who may be the only mortal girl able to restore the balance in the Underrealm and the answer behind the missing Key of Hades and a curse place on the Underrealm.

Except for the exciting beginning of the story, The Shadow Prince takes place in modern times within a High School setting. Haden’s quest takes him to Olympus Hills High, a modern-day high school where not only does Haden have to learn how to act and behave like a normal “human teen” he must master the fine art of dating and getting a girl to like him. Unfortunately for Haden, he has a chip on his shoulder and an ego problem that will need to be adjusted before he has any chance with Daphne.

I like Haden, but I will admit that he comes off a bit pompous and rude at first. I’m glad that The Shadow Prince was told from both Haden’s and Daphne’s pov or else I might not have like him as much as I did without his inner monologues and back-story. Haden, determined to try to win his honor back, can be selfish and even pompous at times. But, it was easy to forgive his attitude when I realized how awkward and naive he felt around Daphne and other human teens. Coming from a royal family and the Underrealm, he hasn’t much contact with humans except his mother, nor human feelings and emotions which are discouraged. Haden actually becomes really sweet, and it was cute witnessing this tough (kick butt) guy try to learn to date and get Daphne to like him. This was what made made me end up liking him so well. As you can see below, Haden is in for a surprise as far as girls go.

I worry my strategy is failing. My online research into “how to get a girl to like me” had suggested, time and time again, that to win a human girl over, I had to be mean to her. I’d spent the bulk of class either ignoring her, contradicting her, or acting like a “bad boy,” which I gather meant showing off my muscles and saying something sexually derogatory.

Daphne is sweet and has some incredible talent as an singer. When Daphne’s estranged rocker dad shows up and offers her a chance to attend the prestigious music program at Olympus Hills High she can hardly say no. Leaving her home in Utah for California sounds like a dream, but when a strange boy suddenly begins to follow her around talking about a prophecy she’s not so sure, and trying to fit in is the least of her problems. I liked her fun personality and the fact that she didn’t immediately fall head over heels for Haden. She’s also has a bit of a chip on her shoulder because her father has never been around much and now he suddenly wants to be close to her. It was nice to see a heroine who didn’t try to change herself nor easily accept our hero and his quest. She put up a nice challenge for the most part, and I liked that.

Overall I enjoyed The Shadow Prince and think this series is off to a good start. I would love to see more action in the Underrealm, and much more about the prophecy hinted at. Although I enjoyed the story and the time Haden and Daphne were in the mortal realm, it was the moments spent in the Underrealm and it’s fantastic lore throughout the story that really kept me turning the pages and fascinated. There’s plenty of mythology created and back-story between the Underlords and Skylord that I’m excited to find out more about. This is my first read by Bree Despain and I enjoyed her writing style. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes next and more of Haden, Daphne and the exciting world of the nderlords.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars, I liked it!

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by  EgmontUSA in exchange for my fair review. Thank you EgmontUSA for the review opportunity!