What do you get when you combine a disgraced prince, an unwilling damsel in distress, the myth of Hades and Persephone, and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice all into one book? You could get a story that’s been told before, or you could get a magical concoction that comes off as cute, spunky, and intriguing rather than cliché. Bree Despain manages to do the latter in The Shadow Prince, the first book in her latest series, Into the Dark.
Lord Haden of the Underrealm has finally been offered his one chance at redemption – of gaining back his title of Heir to the Throne, and, he hopes, his father’s love – but he soon learns that instead of a gift, Fate has bestowed him with a genuine challenge: win the heart of Daphne Raines, a girl with a plan and no desire for distractions, and convince her to give up everything to follow him back to the Underrealm. Haden eventually begins to realize that Daphne isn’t the typical Boon that the Champions are sent to bring back to the harem, and he discovers that bringing her into the dark will have more consequences than the fact that Daphne will never get to see sunlight again. Haden’s Challenge is definitely a challenge: in the end, it’s Haden that falls in love, and Daphne, to say the least, is not very keen on letting him drag her into the Underrealm.
I’ve been fascinated by the Greek myths ever since I learned about them in grade school, and I’m especially interested in the myths of the gods and goddesses. The myth of Persephone wasn’t one that I really got until I was older. “What kind of a creep drags a girl into the underworld and then tricks her into staying there?” However, as I got older, I learned to look at stories from different perspectives, and I began to realize that maybe there's more to the myth than meets the eye. Maybe Persephone wanted to live with Hades and rule the Underworld. Maybe Persephone loved Hades. She definitely wouldn’t be the only female to fall for the “bad boy” (something I definitely didn’t understand until I was older).
The idea that even a goddess isn’t immune to the Byronic Hero is one that has shown up time and time again in recent novels, so much so that it’s difficult to keep the story genuine and avoid falling into cliché territory. When I found out that Bree Despain’s latest series was based on this myth, I was torn. I’ve been a fan of Bree Despain ever since reading The Dark Divine. The idea of reading a new series by her was tempting, but I didn’t want to be disappointed by yet another retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth.
Of course, I ended up reading The Shadow Prince. After all, I do love the Greek myths, no matter how many times they’ve been retold. Plus, it’s Bree Despain. How could I pass up the chance to read her latest series? But not only did I end up reading it, I also ended up loving it.
The Shadow Prince might be based off of a story that’s been retold over and over again, but Bree Despain has managed to avoid writing a cliché novel by incorporating fresh elements into one of the oldest stories out there. I don’t want to spoil the plot for you readers, so I’ll keep my summary brief.
- Haden is not supposed to be Hades, nor is he a son of Hades, or even a grandson of Hades. Daphne isn’t all-too willing to follow him to the ends of the earth; she’s a leader, not a follower. In fact, Daphne is disgusted, not attracted, to this dark and mysterious character.
- In addition to the myth of Hades and Persephone, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice plays a major role in The Shadow Prince, which definitely helps make the plot fresh.
- I don’t know if Despain found different version of the Greek myths while researching, or if she just put her own spin on them, but the myths featured in The Shadow Prince aren’t the ones I’m familiar with (although they are similar), so I wasn’t forced to read through a 400-page novel filled with stories that I’ve heard countless times before.
Needless to say, I’m very glad that I decided to read The Shadow Prince.
The good news about waiting so long to read The Shadow Prince is that I don’t have to wait so long to read its sequel, The Eternity Key, which was just recently released. Hooray for procrastination!
I highly recommend this book. Not only is it a fresh retelling of an old story, but it’s also an example of how YA novels have been evolving. Instead of having the typical, underrated teenage girl who falls in love with the dark and mysterious new guy, The Shadow Prince boasts a heroine who isn’t willing to follow along just because it’s what’s expected of her, and Haden is more Thor-like than Batman- or Superman-like (a comparison I thoroughly enjoyed when it came up in the novel itself).
P.S. In case you need a refresher on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth before reading The Shadow Prince, check out Bree Despain's homemade video ("The Orpheus Myth in 4 Minutes") below!