Title: Promise of Shadows
Author: Justina Ireland
No. of Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Origins: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 11 March 2014
Bottom Line: Very cute and creative
“A teen who is half-god, half-human must own her power whether she likes it or not in this snappy, snarky novel with a serving of smoldering romance.
Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changed when her sister was murdered—and Zephyr used a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.
On the run from a punishment worse than death, an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend upends Zephyr’s world—and not only because her old friend has grown surprisingly, extremely hot. It seems that Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess that is prophesied to shift the power balance: for hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that.
But how is she supposed to save everyone else when she can barely take care of herself?”
Thoughts: Ms. Ireland takes the traditional Greek myths and shakes them up ever so slightly to create a story that is different and exciting. All of the key components remain – the mythical beasts, the gods and goddesses, the lesser gods, the monsters. It is their relationships to one another that are so interesting and unique. Their source of power is also quite fascinating in the fact that she ties into the perpetual fight between darkness and light. This world of half-gods and Exalted is unfamiliar enough to require some adjustment time, but any discomfort about the foreign elements fades quickly as readers become vested in Zephyr’s fate.
Zephyr’s voice is refreshingly honest. She speaks with enough slang to fit her age without going overboard and seeming like a foreign language. More important, her cadence is perfect; her exclamations and pauses are very realistic. Her inner and external dialogue is like listening to one’s own teenage daughter. She earns a reader’s sympathy without making one cringe with too much angst-ridden whining. The limited amount of teen-speak makes Promise of Shadows a perfect candidate for cross- over into the adult realm.
Another delightful twist is how matter-of-fact all of the characters are. It rains excrement in Tartarus, and no one bats an eye. Later, one character turns into a full-fledged dragon like it’s no big deal. The discussions, taken out of context, are laughable, but Ms. Ireland makes it all just the way things are in Zephyr’s life. Everything is so plausible and perfectly normal. Yet, there is the slightest hint of snark throughout the story specifically because all of the magical beings and mythical power struggles treated as ordinary. The very lack of reaction by the characters is a nod to the absurdity of it all, which adds another bit of humor to the entire fare.
With Promise of Shadows, Ms. Ireland plays with Greek mythology to create something other than a battle against Zeus and the other gods of Olympus. The darkness of the Underworld takes on a different hue as a very sympathetic Zephyr grows into her powers. The attraction between Tallon and Zephyr is adorable albeit predictable. Overall, it is a very satisfying story that hints at more to come. Given how cute Zephyr is in her awkwardness and how enjoyable the entire story is, one can only hope that is not the last we will see of Zephyr.