The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was provided by Egmont in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!) My review was in no way influenced by this consideration.

The Shadow Prince was my first Bree Despain, but I will definitely be going right out to track down more of her earlier novels. Right from the first chapter, I was completely swept away. I’d just finished reading some contemporary sci-fi (heavy on the science and gadgets), and so making the switch, here, was a bit of an adjustment: Despain’s story begins in a time and place unknown, but it is clearly not here. She inserts bits of information about plot and character so deftly in those first several pages of plot, that by the time the chapter is finished, a whole world has opened up before us, and …lemme just say, kids, it is somethin’ else. Completely full of atmosphere and gravitas and people who are fascinating and scary and a little awesome, in the traditional sense of the word.

The true joy of the novel is its protagonist, Daphne, whom we get to hear from in alternating chapters. Haden (her male counterpart) and Daphne are both strong, independent voices, and Despain does a nice job of making them seem different. I found Daphne a heroine to truly love–she’s introspective, compassionate, driven, and determined. She’s also a musician, which I particularly related to and enjoyed.

The theme of music and its vital role in The Shadow Prince is well woven throughout–not just in the plotline, but the prose, as well. I’m completely irritated with myself for not bookmarking the pages, but there were a couple of times when Despain used musical turns of phrase to describe things, even when there was no music involved, and I found myself smiling. I assume these were used purposefully, and there were probably more that I missed. Despain knows what she’s doing, and she writes well.

As for plot, Despain gives us a fun mystery/adventure/romance that clips along at a steady pace, with several secondary characters to push the story along (and make things more mysterious!) and a little Greek mythology mixed in between. OK, more than a little–but trust me, it was usually doled out in small doses, and always pertinent to the plot.

In all, Despain’s penned a wonderfully entertaining ride. I think my husband might be a little grumpy at me for being so absorbed in this one in the evenings. Um, sorry, honey? Couple of mild profanities and a little blood & guts (really, one scene) in the last quarter of the book. Otherwise clean. 4 stars.

4 Stars

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