The Shadow Prince
By Kirkus Reviews
In a solarpunk Egypt, a young boy seeks to win a dangerous competition and secure a coveted role.
Ash’s life in his Egyptian village leaves much to be desired—bullies pick on him, and though he could easily fight back, his mentor, Yazen, makes him keep his abilities secret. Ash has never understood why Yazen teaches him how to fight, read hieroglyphs, and defeat demons. That is, until the eve of his 12th birthday, when the mentor reveals all: Ash is one of several children born on the same day as an Egyptian prince, and this allows him to compete for a spot as the prince’s shadow—his confidant and personal guard. Ash rushes to meet his destiny head-on, relishing in the escape from his isolated village and contemptible peers. The set of trials meant to weed out the unworthy is daunting—the royal family seems to have no qualms about children dying in the name of finding the prince’s shadow—and includes everything from academic tests and physical fitness challenges to battling deadly demons. Thankfully, Ash gains some friendly allies along the way. The plot is quite conventional, relying on perennially popular genre tropes such as an orphaned chosen one protagonist and children engaged in potentially lethal competition. However, its setting of a fantastical, solar-powered Egypt complete with solar chariots and kiteboards is original.
Solid and earnest.