Book one of Into the Dark
By Bree Despain
Available now from EgmontUSA
Read my review of The Dark Divine and my interview with Bree
I liked The Dark Divine trilogy, so I was eager to read Bree Despain's next series, Into the Dark. This series puts a modern spin on Greek mythology. THE SHADOW PRINCE concentrates on the stories of Persephone and Hades and Orpheus and Eurydice. If that doesn't give it away, yes this book does deal quite a bit with the Underworld. In fact, protagonist and co-narrator Haden Lord is a prince of the Underworld. A disgraced prince, but that doesn't stop the Oracle from picking him as a Champion. His quest: to go to Earth and convince Daphne Raines to join him in the Underworld in six months, when the gate opens again.
Haden starts the book incredibly arrogant and rather unthinking of others. Luckily for him, both of his companions are excellent at pointing out his selfishness. (They're a bit less awesome about making him do anything about it.) He also manages to drive Daphne away the first time they meet, by trying to get what he wants immediately and not bothering to think things through, which is basically his flaws in a nutshell.
Daphne has lived with her mom her whole life, but moves in with her dad when he gets her into one of the finest music programs in the country. She's talented and plans to use her voice to go places. (And no, places is not code for the Underworld.) She's understandably put off by Haden, and avoids him like a sensible person until she gets an explanation that recontextualizes his actions into something nonthreatening. But Haden and Daphne might have bigger problems than the Underworld, starting with the fact that something is killing people and no one else seems to care.
I thought Into the Dark was a great start to the series. There's some interesting worldbuilding, and Haden's people are neither entirely right nor entirely wrong. There's a fairly large cast, but all of the characters are appealing and at least somewhat defined. The romance is not instant, but developed through interaction. There's another important guy in Daphne's life, but he's just a friend. Love triangle: avoided. If there's one misstep, it's that Despain begins to set up the plot of the second book a bit too far in advance. I spent much of THE SHADOW PRINCE wondering when that plot thread was going to come into play. I must admit, I did not see it slotting into place when it did, which did provide some redemption.
I know Persephone and Hades are super trendy right now. I think THE SHADOW PRINCE succeeds in putting its own spin on the story. Despain's fans won't be disappointed.