In PRINCE OF SHADOWS, Rachel Caine draws the reader into the Shakespearean world of Romeo and Juliet. Their relationship, however, exists only in the reader’s peripheral vision except for a couple of key interactions midway and then, of course, their final act of passion at the end of the tale. Benvolio Montague, Romeo’s cousin, takes center stage and we see events through his perspective. To all eyes, he is the quiet, solid, responsible one in the Montague household. In secret, however, he takes to shaming the Capulets in his own way. He pays attention to offending Capulet actions during the day and then sneaks into the offenders’ homes at night to steal the things they hold most precious. For these escapades, he earns the name Prince of Shadows.
In the first half of the story, Caine lays the groundwork and solidifies the personalities and interrelationships of the characters. Some, like Mercutio and La Signora di Farro, are well-rounded while others, like Veronica and Juliet, are flat. We witness the typical carousing and day-to-day feuding between the Montagues and Capulets with eruptions of violence from time to time. The pace is slow and plods along until the mid-point where Mercutio’s father learns of his kindhearted son’s intimate relationship with Tomasso, a young male scholar. The dramatic, heart-wrenching scene of Tomasso’s murder begins the tortuous disfiguration of Mercutio’s character into something monstrous.
If the novel ended midway I would have only been willing to give it 2.5 stars, but Tomasso’s murder became the catalyst for a rapid acceleration of the plot. Mercutio’s resolute focus and passionate response released intense non-stop action on multiple fronts. I loved this dynamic, hopeless and desperate character! Once Claire got the ball rolling it was hard to put the book down until the last page was turned. 3.5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Penguin’s First to Read program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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A thrilling retelling of the star-crossed tale of Romeo and Juliet, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series.
In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and—if they survive—marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.
Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona—and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona…
…And will rewrite all their fates, forever.
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: NAL Hardcover (February 4, 2014)