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Book review: 'The Shadow Prince' sweeps readers up with twist on Greek mythology

"IN THE DARK, No. 1: The Shadow Prince," by Bree Despain, Egmont USA, $17.99, 496 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

"The Shadow Prince" by Salt Lake author Bree Despain has depth and color although the main character Haden Lord feels a little bit like another popular teen boy sans the sparkling skin.

Haden is on a mission to prove himself, a mission that involves finding his "boon" in the mortal world and bringing her back to the Underworld with him to save all in a twist on Greek mythology.

When he's sent to Earth, he's not used to the contraptions and concepts that come with mortal life, such as cars, haircuts, cellphones and music, the last of which is forbidden in the Underworld.

He broods. He sends mixed messages. He falls for Daphne Raines and becomes uncomfortable with simply abducting her to bring back to his world.

Daphne is trying to escape the confinement of her small-town world tucked away in southern Utah and wants to sing and to make a difference with the music she hears coming from everything (trees, flowers, bushes) and everyone around her.

She also wants to reconcile with her rock star father, who never seemed to want her in his life but unexpectedly shows up one day with a court order for full custody.

When she moves to Olympus Hills in California with her father, she meets Haden, who is posing as a student there.

At first, Daphne dislikes Haden. He is intrigued but confused by her.

Naturally, she ends up with Haden, but it's a dangerous journey. She fights her "destiny," and she is annoyed and not too happy to find she apparently has little input in her future and her decisions.

There are shadow creatures and deceptions all around her. What she thinks about her father, her mother, her friends and her future shifts and changes in nearly every chapter.

There are serious father-son issues between Haden and King Ren that involve Haden's twin brother, Rowan. Haden's half-brother, Garrick, poses a threat in that he's not simply a hero-worshipper but harbors some deep-seated anger.

There's Greek mythology that plays into the story. The stories of Oracles and gods including Hades, Zeus and Apollo, among others, play a role. There are ever-present threats from the Underworld, a lot of lightning bolts thrown and some mild drug and alcohol use.

There are mild sexual references and some mild violence.

Because two more books are to come, not many key questions are answered in "The Shadow Prince." But the story so far certainly gets the reader swept up and wanting to know more.

Despain, who has come a long way in her writing, is also the author of the Dark Divine trilogy.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at