Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:
Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.
Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he’s capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?
I’ve made it no secret that I’m not a generally a fan of Young Adult novellas. Generally speaking, I find them too short, too expensive and too lacking in worthwhile content to ever recommend.
I am happy to say I have finally found one that I can recommend, because The Shadow Prince is none of these things.
I think the author is to be commended her, because instead of using a novella as a means of milking more money from fans, instead they’re using the novella as a way to create fans of the series by giving it away for free. It’s a brilliant idea and I would love to see this approach from other authors in the future. Why? It gives fans a sense of the world that’s been created and the characters that inhabit it, without being a simple chapter sampler which seems to be the preferred method of introduction in the industry today.
And what I really like here is that not only is this a meaty introduction (the novella itself is a whopping 74 pages – nearly double the length of the average YA novella) but she uses the opportunity to give us the backstory on a character who isn’t actually narrating the main story. So while we will inevitably get some kind of recap in the first book, it shouldn’t feel like a simple rehash because our actual narrator Kalin will be learning it from Rowan. We will get to experience both her reaction to the story and possibly get insight into Rowan based on how and what he chooses to share. It could really be a great way to further his character.
As for the story itself? It seems genuinely promising. I enjoyed the concept of the four courts, I thought the characters we were introduced to all seemed interesting in their own ways and it seems like there will be some good intrigue here. While this book will surely have a fairly heavy romantic component to it (Rowan is crushing pretty hard in this), I’m not so concerned about it because while Rowan may not be a White Knight, he does genuinely seem like a good guy which (bizarrely, might I add) is actually a bit unusual in Young Adult where the trope normally dictates that the guy be “bad” and find redemption thanks to our heroine. Rowan has an attitude, but I don’t think he needs it. It’s a nice change.
All this combined, if you like Young Adult, there is really is no reason to not check it out. You may just find a book to add to your To Be Read list.
Verdict: Buy It (it’s free!)