Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Rating: 3/5 stars
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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
I thought The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain was one of those books I desperately wanted to love. And while it wasn’t the best thing out there, I did still like where the book went.
So let’s talk about the characters first. The Shadow Prince is told between the perspectives of Haden and Daphne. Haden is the underdog so to speak because he had so much to prove and so much to overcome after being stripped of his honor by his own father. He was impulsive, driven by his emotions, but so strong willed. It was clear that his mother raised him with love and good morals, something the Court in the Underrealm thought was unacceptable. I liked Haden because in the beginning he had one thing on his mind, but he grew throughout the book and ended up choosing the right thing rather than the selfish thing. Daphne was just a human girl who wanted to escape her town and dream big as a musician. She also longed for her father’s attention and love. Daphne was a tough, determined girl who was really independent. I liked her too because she was set on chasing her dreams and was adamant about not following after a guy. Although she seemed like an ordinary teenaged girl, she was far from it. She certainly played a bigger role in the book more than I originally thought.
One of the reasons I didn’t give this book a high rating was due to the romance. I thought it fell flat. I was disappointed that the focus was mostly on the romantic development rather than the world building. While both characters did show growth by the end, I wish the focus on their relationship was set aside for the time being. It was a let down because it wasn’t as convincing as I would have liked although there seems to be potential in future books. I felt like Haden and Daphne were better off staying friends in this book. It would have been better if Despain kept the main focus on other important aspects.
My main problem for the book was probably world building and diving into the storyline itself. It was hard because I was mostly confused about how the Underrealm worked. About 30% into the book was just me struggling to piece stuff together and rereading passages because I couldn’t process a lot of what was going on and why. When I finally got the gist of it, I thought it was pretty cool. The Underrealm had a Court, Elites, Champions and Boons. The Underrealm was more like royalty, with the best of best having all the honor. There was a set way of things in Court and even family and blood will not be given be mercy or any sort. I thought all of this (and more) could have been explained better. You kind of had to just go with the flow until things were explained and that was very hard to do in my opinion.
While I had trouble with the storyline along the way, I did enjoy the twists that Despain put into it. I had so many questions about Daphne’s involvement about being a Boon and Cipher and how her story collided with Haden’s. All this gets revealed in a surprising way. I knew certain people were involved somehow, I just didn’t know exactly how or why. Seeing how all these things came together was awesome in of itself. The mythology and action was also a plus for me. The way Despain incorporated and loosely centered this book on the Hades/Persephone and Orpheus/Eurydice mythology was brilliant. She put a modern and unique twist into it that I certainly have to commend her on. I love Greek mythology and this one was fun and original in every way. The book was not too action packed, but it had the right amount of it. The most interesting aspect had to be the Sky gods and Underlord’s powers.
All in all The Shadow Prince has some serious potential in the long run. I had certain issues with the world building and romance, but Despain created a character driven story that was as developed as it could get without spoiling too much. I’m not quite sure if I’ll continue the series, but it’s all definitely up in the air for me.
*Thanks to Egmont for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review