Thursday, March 13, 2014

Into the dark, book 1: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

Published: March 11th, 2014
Publisher: Egmont
Pages: 380
Copy: Edelweis
Summary: Goodreads

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 I had already read some titles by Bree Despain, but it turns out I haven't, and now that I've finished 'The Shadow Prince' I'm wondering why not, since I absolutely loved this one. Both Daphne and Haden seemed well grounded in this story, which is interesting because they are both from such disparate backgrounds.  Haden is outwardly very strong and capable, but there is a vulnerability to him that softens his tough edges.  His initial brashness is easily explained by his upbringing and I loved his slow acceptance of his new situation. Daphne is landed into what initially seems like a sweet deal, but she has to get used to a completely different lifestyle and she does it well.

One of the big questions is why and how Daphne is involved in all this mystery surrounding the deaths and disappearances  of students, and there are several twists and turns that lead the reader to all the wrong conclusions.  Secondary characters add another level   - Dax and Simon for starters.  Just exactly what is the real story with these two? Even by the end of the story, I still wasn't completely sure about Simon - is he Mr Sunny, or isn't he?   Ms. Despain has put together a complex mythology, based on the stories of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone.  By placing the 'action' at the 'Olympus Hills' community and school, she is giving a lovely nod to the Greek legends. There is so much going on in the story, yet my attention never wavered and I raced through it.

In certain ways I was reminded of Josephine Angelini's 'Starcrossed' trilogy, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The Shadow Prince should appeal to all lovers of mythology and contemporary mystery.

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