Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain (Into the Dark book 1)

Based on the Persephone myth with the story of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice's escape from the Underworld thrown in.

Lord Haden did the unforgiveable the day his mother died and he has been relentlessly punished ever since. When he is chosen by the Oracle as the only champion, the Court of Heirs is outraged. King Ren Hades voices his outrage that Haden and not Rowan, Haden's twin and his favorite son, was chosen. The Oracle tells King Ren that they both know why it must be Haden. He is the only one who can complete the quest that has been eighteen years in the making. King Ren relents rather than anger the Fates. He makes the ceremonial vow and carves something in Haden's arm. The Oracle faces Haden. She touches between his eyes and instead of taking a memory from him like she did in the choosing ceremony, she gives him a memory. At first, it is the story of Hades and Persephone that he was raised on but then changes to something new, he sees a girl and the Oracle tells him that the Cypher has been found. She is the one who can restore what was taken from the Underlords. Haden is the Champion fate has chosen to return her to the Underrealm. He will have six months to convince her to return of her own accord. King Ren will allow Haden to call him father, have his honor restored and be named his heir if he succeeds. If he fails and the gate between the Underrealm and the mortal world opens, he will lose much more. King Ren orders everyone to leave. The blessings and feast for the champions will not occur. Haden is also told to leave. Still dazed by the ceremony, he finds that he is filled with a mixture of grief, pride and relief. He looks at his arm to see what King Ren carved there. It is the name of the girl he must find order to restore everything that has been taken from him, Daphne Raines.

Before leaving for his quest, Rowan taunts Haden until he snaps. He is punishing a Lesser, which Haden recognizes as their half-brother, Garrick. Garrick was with Haden when his mother was dying and was sent to retrieve their father. Something happened and now Garrick is now punished by working in the Keres mines and Haden is disgraced by his father. The stronger of the two brothers, Haden quickly gains the upper hand while Rowan's followers watch. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, he strikes a bolt of lightning just next to his head. Unfortunately, his has just played into his brother's plans. He goes off alone to think before leaving and his friend Dax finds him. Disgraced from having failed his own quest, he tells Haden that his father has given him permission to join him in the Overrealm. Everyone lines up to see them off but no honor is bestowed on him as it has been in the past. Haden and Dax head towards Persephone's Gate. Now only open for 24 hours twice a year, it is the only entrance and exit that a living soul can pass through into the Underrealm. It is also the time reserved for the Champions to enter and exit the Overrealm. The key to the gate was lost when the Sky God killed the original Hades when war broke out amongst the gods. With his father missing from the ceremony, Haden asks his teacher if he can have an entrouage. Yes and Haden asks for his brother. Rowan steps forward but Haden clarifies by saying his half-brother, Garrick. Transported through the gate, they arrive in the Overrealm at sunrise. A voice greets them by saying, "Welcome to Olympus Hills."

Haden and his entourage have been greeted by a man named Simon Fitzgerald, their "guide" in the Overrealm. He leads them to a spectacular house and is surprised to see Dax back after his failed quest. Haden quickly grows tired of Simon but Dax tells him not to make him angry. He is needed. Simon shows Haden his room and makes him promise to stay there until he and Dax have worked out all of the necessary arrangements. He locks the door behind him. Later, Haden thinks he hears Simon and Dax leave the house. He soon grows impatient and feels like time is rushing past. Haden decides if he can make it back to the gate and it's still open, less than twenty four hours will have passed. He finds he window unlocked and climbs out. Haden heads back to Persephone's Gate.

Daphne Raines made a deal with her mother ever to leave her small hometown of Ellis Fields. In her almost seventeen years, she has only ventured outside of the town once. Tonight, she wants to sneak away to go to the All-Teen Talent Competition at Southern Utah University. The promise came at the age of thirteen when Daphne crashed her bike on the outskirts of town trying to leave. A broken arm, a weekend in the hospital and lots of painkillers, stuck the deal until she got her driver’s license. On the cusp of turning seventeen and no license, she is beginning to believe that she has been duped. "Uncle" Jonathan found her flyer and confronts her when she lies about wanting to go to the dance. The second place prize money would replace the cooler her mom needs for the flower shop. Jonathan says if she got first place, which is very possible considering how well she can sing, she would move on in the competition and her mother will kill them both. Besides the money, colleges and talent scouts will be in attendance and Daphne sees college as a way out of Ellis. He lets her know that her mother just wants to protect her. They hear the front door slam open and before Daphne can see if it is her friend Indie, Indie comes bursting through the back door. She drags Daphne to the front, telling her she won’t believe who is there. A Hummer limo is parked illegally in front of the store and a man and woman are standing in front of the flower cooler. She is surprised that he is dressed in leather while in the middle of the desert. When her turns around, Indie is ecstatic but everyone else goes silent. Daphne asks her father why he is there. He lets her know that a judge in California has granted him custody and she will be living with him.

Daphne's father is taking her back to the exclusive Olympus Hills community that he has just purchased a house in so that she can attend their prestigious high school and music program. Knowing that by agreeing to go with him, she is breaking her mother's heart, but it is her only escape from Ellis. Being with her father ensures that she will have money to go to college and peruse her musical dream. What Daphne is unprepared for is that she will have to audition to gain admittance to the program, in the morning. She is worried because she doesn't have three songs prepared, only the one for the talent competition. Waking Joe up the next afternoon for his scheduled interview, she doesn't stay to help him clean up since he hasn't said two words to her since they left Ellis. Having picked two more songs for her audition, she tells him that she is heading out to the grove they passed the night before for some quiet practice time. Joe begs for some time with her and offers to buy her a new amp for her audition. She relents, knowing that she could use one. Joe goes upstairs to get his credit card. When he doesn't come back or answers her, Daphne is disappointed. She straps her guitar to her bike and heads towards the grove.

In the grove, Daphne hears the music of nature and is drawn to it. She hears music in everything; people, nature. It is how she has chosen her friends based on the melodies of their voices. Deciding on her third song, she begins playing. Eventually she adds her voice and her song reverberates with the sounds from nature. When she stops, she hears a very real gasp. Asking who is there, no one answers but she knows that she is not alone. Thinking it might be paparazzi, she calls them out. A strange voice finally answers asking about her voice; what was she doing? Does he mean her singing? A refined looking boy steps out, towering over a tall Daphne, but she realizes that he acts a bit wild and untamed. Fascinated but leery of him, she notices that he has no melodies coming off of him like other people and he radiates warmth. He sees her necklace, a name pendant that was a gift, and asks if she is Daphne Raines. If he can get her to willingly return to the Underrealm with him, it would surely bring him glory to return less than a day later. She realizes that he doesn't have a camera but is shocked when he asks her to go with him. She calls him a perv, punches him and flees.

Why does King Ren seem to despise Haden so much? What happened when his mother died? Will he regain his father's respect? Can the key to Persephone's Gate be found? Why does Haden need Daphne to willingly return with him to the Underrealm? What is the real reason Daphne's father came to get her? Will she succeed at Olympus Hills High in their music program? Why can she hear music from people and things? What happens when Haden realizes that he is falling in love with Daphne?

Told in alternating chapters from both Haden and Daphne's points of view, readers will be clamoring for the next book in the trilogy. Hilarious with major surprises and twists at the end, I think this trilogy is going to be even better than Ms. Despain's Dark Divine!

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