Review: Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on March 7, 2014 | 9 Comments

Review: Promise of Shadows by Justina IrelandPromise of Shadows by Justina Ireland
Published by Simon & Schuster (3.11.2014)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC, 371 pages
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon

2.5 Stars

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. Because it seems like Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess made flesh that is prophesied to change 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 when she can’t even save herself?

My thoughts

Man, did this book have wonderful potential. I wanted so badly to love this – it had fabulous mythology, originality, and I was in love with the fact that our main character is a Harpy. In the beginning I was rather enjoying it. The setting was awesome – Tartarus! – and there was a big monster thing called a Draken; and I thought it was awesome that the MC, Zephyr, was not only a Harpy with blue hair and wings, that could smell emotions, but she was also black. I can’t think of a single book I’ve read where the main character wasn’t white. It was refreshing! 

But – did you sense that but coming? – the farther along the story went, the more it lost me. In the beginning this probably could have been a 3.5 or 4 star book for me, but with each chapter that went by my feelings about it slipped lower…and lower….and it got to the point where I just didn’t really care about it anymore. The awesome story and stellar mythology got lost somewhere as Zephyr started doubting and dwelling and just being an idiot in general.

I quite hated Zephyr, actually. That was my main issue with this book. I wanted to slap the crap out of her! She was childish and petulant, and what really ticked me off is she knew when she was wrong and either kept doing the same things or wouldn’t admit to anyone that she was wrong. Or apologize. She was also a coward – but it was almost like she tried to be a coward. In fact, she kept saying that she was a coward. Of course you are, if you keep believing that! A monster was chasing her and instead of taking the chance on jumping – which could either be safety or death if she didn’t make it – she just stood there and was going to let the thing eat her. She just gave up. If you’re resigned to death anyway, why not try to save yourself and have the chance at life?! 

Her insecurity was annoying as hell. Insecurity is realistic, but she was insecure to the point that it was a redundant forethought, overshadowing the plot line. She was constantly berating herself for being a coward, saying how she wasn’t good enough, that she could never lead anybody to victory, that she wasn’t the Nyx because she wasn’t brave enough. She was never enough. It was always a pity party with her! Every time a female came into play, she had some snide remark about how pretty they looked in what they were wearing and how they made her look plain or unattractive. She was so damn vain it was disgusting. She was actually upset (she said it made her “nervous”…what?) because her best friend looked pretty. It was so irritating!! Plus she was hot and cold when it came to her strengths. She could wield the erebos like a badass one minute and be throwing a massive pity party about how useless she was the next. Here’s an example:

I’m not the Nyx. 
My eyes meet Hera’s, and she grins at me. It’s a smile of triumph. “I thought you would be stronger.” Her words cut through me, unleashing something red and hot and angry. Her ridicule mingles with so many others’, and the bitterness from a lifetime of failing to live up to expectations rises within me.
I will show them all. I failed their Trials, but it means nothing. Because no matter what they say, I know who I am.
I am the Nyx.

Really, you had that revelation in the span of a paragraph (after denying it the ENTIRE book), just because someone makes an observation? *shakes head*

Zephyr’s treatment of Alora really pissed me off, too. Sure, Alora acted a little condescending sometimes, but Zephyr was flat out mean to her just because she was threatened by her and jealous of her. When Alora has an actual lead to help them, Zephyr acted like a complete child and ripped up the note with directions on it so that they would have to stay where they were. She degraded Alora and brushed her off, saying that she didn’t trust her, when she’d never really done anything wrong.

The ‘romance’ was my second major problem. It was perpetual mental whiplash with Zephyr and Tallon. One minute they were almost kissing, the next they were barely speaking. Or angry with each other for some unfathomable reason. It drove me CRAZY. Especially Zephyr! She was such an idiot about it. It was clear when Tallon was angry that he was jealous, but she would walk away from him and then get pissy when he was around anything remotely female, making catty remarks about those females. If you won’t make a move on him because you’re too “scared,” you have NO right to get upset about him being in the company of another female. 

She also kept giving Tallon the cold shoulder and then she was angry at him for it. She kept saying that he was a jerk, but I never thought he acted like one. Like I said, the few times he acted angry (like, twice) it was clearly jealousy. But he never treated her like crap or anything, he just didn’t really speak to her. And when he was the voice of reason, telling her she needed to pull it together and do her duty, she got angry and yelled at him for it. Um, it’s called responsibility. 

The majority of the book was focused on Zephyr’s insecurity about being the Nyx as well as her dwelling over not being able to have Tallon (HER fault, not his); and also moping over things and acting wounded. I found it disgusting how quickly she forgot about finding her sister’s shade in favor of pining for Tallon. And instead of pining from a distance and getting angry at him for not making a move (when she wouldn’t do it either), she could have talked to him about it, you know, like an adult. Instead of a 12-year-old.

I struggled a bit in the beginning with the world building, because the term ‘vættir’ is just kind of thrown at you with no explanation. Eventually, we learn that they are half Æthereal (Gods, basically) and half human, but I feel like it should have been explained immediately to avoid that confusion. Same thing with erebos, and I never did quite grasp the term ‘Exalted.’ After the intro, we get information about the vættir’s and Æthereal’s backgrounds, but it’s in the form of an info dump. While it was interesting, I had a bit of trouble processing it because it was all explained at once.

Notice that the feels for this book are 0.5/5. That’s because I felt nothing. View Spoiler » I didn’t care about what happened to the characters at all. Also, the big revelation with Hades at the end didn’t surprise me one bit. Actually, I found it funny instead of shocking. View Spoiler »

Another minor complaint: Use of the word ‘snarled.’ Is that the only way the author knows how to describe something that’s tangled? I think the only way that Harpy hair and the Strands were ever described was snarled. It was used so often it actually got on my nerves. Okay, Zephyr’s hair is a tangly blue mess, I get it…

Blue was supposedly a dragon, but we never got any dragon action! I really wanted some dragon action. :(

Despite all that negativity, I truly did love the mythology and the background behind it. That was by far my favorite part, and that’s the only reason this book still got 2.5 heartbeats. Like I said, great potential. If it weren’t for Zephyr being so hateful and the “romance” being so hot and cold, I probably would have loved this book. At the same time, if it weren’t for the intriguing world and back story, this book probably would have scored no higher than 1/5 heartbeats.

Overall Assessment

Plot: 2.5/5
Premise: 5/5
Writing style: 3/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Characters: 1.5/5
World-building: 3.5/5
Pace: 3.5/5
Feels: 0.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5

Jessi (Geo)

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9 responses to “Review: Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland

  1. Ouch, ouch, ouch…I have to admit, from the sounds of your review, this wouldn’t be my kind of book. That crazy back-and-forth I-hate-you-I-love-you relationships DRIVE ME BONKERS. Hair tearing inducing, yes. And Zephyr sounds a little too whiny for me. I like it when characters have insecurities, yes, but the whole whining thing is very frustrating and wears thing fast. I probably won’t be going for this book. Great review, though, and I think you talked about it very fairly!

  2. YAAAAS I totally agree! Zephyr was such a whiny person throughout the entire thing that it was really kind of unattractive at times because she just kept moaning on and on about her insecurities and how she couldn’t get Tallon, even though that relationship was seriously hot and cold.

    The mythology was definitely super cool, but the fact that there was absolutely NO world-building behind it really disappointed me because the term Æthereal isn’t household talk or anything like that, so it was so confusing to have to distinguish the different terms, and I never really got the hang of everything until maybe the very last chapter.

    HAHAHA STAR WARS! Seriously I just I can’t even because it was so cliché, not the line itself (although that was, too), but the fact that she pulled that plot twist like come on. Sorry this one wasn’t for you either, Jessi, however fantastic review as always! <33

  3. Ugh it sounds like this one was all over the place! It reminds me a lot of my feelings for Crewel actually – it had so much potential, and I was loving it for the first bit. But then it all went downhill.

    Just reading your review has made me hate Zephyr; like, I can’t picture a heroine who would be more annoying to read about! Haha

  4. Insecure characters can be great, but damn, that does sound like a huge pity party. I hate it when they practically drown in their whining. It sounded so promising, especially with the description of her looks! She would really annoy me and I don’t think I could even finish this book.

  5. That’s so disappointing! So many of these books coming out right now sound absolutely wonderful. And then they turn out to be M-E-H at best. Boo. Hisssss. Take that, Zephyr. Insecure characters with pretty-girl complexes are zero fun. Thanks for the honest review.

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