Title: Promise of Shadows
Author: Justina Ireland
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Review copy: the lovely library
Availability: March 11, 2014
Summary: 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 changes when her sister is murdered—and she uses a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate. Zephyr is on the run from a punishment worse than death when an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend (a surprisingly HOT friend) changes everything. [Image and summary via Goodreads]
Review: (For the good of everyone, I’ve abbreviated the book blurb above, since it pretty much gives away everything that happens in the book. You’re welcome.)
The book starts out with Zephyr Mourning serving time in the Underworld, in the pits of Tartarus. Zephyr is, essentially, a failure of a harpy. She’s no military genius like her tough, high-powered mother and she’s not much good at magic either. How Zephyr, a peace-loving harpy afraid of the dark, ends up a murderer shovelling mud in the pits of Tartarus is a story that slowly unfolds as the plot moves forward.
Zephyr’s background and past are revealed through a series of convenient reminisces and flashbacks that gradually color in the story. At times, I felt like I’d picked up the wrong book, and that there was a prequel waiting to be read first. (There isn’t, alas.) Some of the relationships were explained through flashbacks — with Nanda, her godmother, and with Tallon, her childhood-friend-turned-hot-love-interest — which made it a little difficult to connect with them. Fortunately, her relationship with Cass, her levelheaded companion in Tartarus is both believable and heartwarming.
Promise of Shadows is set in a modern-day world where, where Greek mythology is both true and relevant. The immature, petty behavior of the pompous Greek gods and goddesses is the highlight of the book and pretty hilarious. More than once, Hera (Zeus’s wife/sister) makes an appearance just so she can act haughty and turn her nose down at Zephyr. Both the worldbuilding and the background history in Promise of Shadows are fascinating enough that I would love to read a prequel.
If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, Promise of Shadows is definitely a must-read!
Recommendation: Get it soon!
Justina Ireland’s post at Diversity in YA: Writing About Diversity Is Harder Than I Thought