Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine Review: Masterful Romeo & Juliet retelling

March 5, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine Review: Masterful Romeo & Juliet retellingPrince of Shadows by Rachel Caine
Published by Penguin Australia on January 29, 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Fiction, Historical
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Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene . .

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..

Prince of Shadows just gave me a major book hangover. Romeo & Juliet is one of the Shakespearean tales that I have read and loved, for the epic, tragic love story and the ages old feud between the Capulets and the Montagues.

Rachel Caine adds a new dimension to the greatest love tragedy ever told with brilliant writing and storytelling. She has embellished Romeo & Juliet with her own flair for the dramatic and new surprises and conclusions, which meshes perfectly in the renaissance setting and makes perfect theatrical sense. Told from the point of view of Romeo’s elder and wiser cousin, Benvolio, a Montague whose secret identity is the Prince of Shadows. In true Robin Hood fashion, he punishes the cruel by stealing from them and enacting his own form of justice.

“The brave Prince of Shadows…Prince of thieves, prince of liars, prince of idiots. Why have you killed no Capulets for me, Benvolio? Is there not death between them and me, for the sake of the one I don’t dare name under penalty of the same? You creep, you steal, you take your revenge in secret. I crave more; do you hear? I desire blood!” – Mercutio

Matched with concurrent events in the classic, we’re given a different angle as Benvolio witnesses the scorn and breakdown of his gay childhood friend Mercutio, the ill will of his serpent tongued sister Veronica, and the curious admiration for Juliet’s sister Rosaline. Benvolio has so much depth to him that I couldn’t help being attached to this story and his wise observations about the Capulets and Montagues. His honour, wisdom, mercy and protectiveness is well exhibited here. The nonstop action drives the plot progressively forward, and it gets more and more intense as Mercutio wants vengeance for his scorned lover which escalates into it’s final conclusion.

As a fervent Rachel Caine fan, I was pleased to discover that she does great justice to the Shakespearean work. Here, the writing is flowery, descriptive and olden, and some of the quotes from the original are worked into the novel, with a modern touch to it.

She is a Capulet…My life is my foe’s debt. – Romeo

Rachel Caine masterfully twists the story of tragedy, of love, and of death into one of eventual hope. Prince of Shadows has left me astounded, with a book hangover that I’ll have for a long time coming. In it’s brilliance of storytelling and an artful plot, Rachel Caine has ironed herself as a writer of great magnitude, as she breaks new ground in historical fiction and nothing gets in her way in her storytelling. I’d recommend this book to all lovers of Shakespeare, historical fiction and the English language.

Oh yeah, and I probably wouldn’t categorise this as YA. More historical fiction, and I loved it nonetheless.

Thank you to Penguin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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42 responses to “Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine Review: Masterful Romeo & Juliet retelling

  1. Hahaha you are so funny Dre! Nah, there's no wherefore art thou, although the writing is appropriate to olden day but not unreadable. Hope that makes sense! It's a lot better to read than the original.

  2. I love Romeo and Juliet and, because I'm such a soppy romantic at heart, it's one of my favourite stories. There are SO many retellings out there though, that just fail to capture the original heart of the story. I'm glad this one takes a different approach and instead of going the standard route does something knew, by telling Benvolio's story instead. Also love this shows some more Rosaline! I'm always curious about her character being explored more
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    • I know, what a fail was that film with Leo in it? It was kind of ridiculous and hard to follow. I like the ones that stay true to the original but Rachel Caine has gone beyond a simple retelling by adding a new angle to it.

  3. I haven't read any of Caine's books yet. I know, I know. I'm not really big on Romeo & Juliet retellings, but this does sound interesting. It's just that Romeo is such a douche in the original that I have a hard time liking any version of him. lol.
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  4. Ahhh I just got my copy of this in the mail last week so I am really glad to hear you enjoyed this.

    Admittedly I haven't read Romeo and Juliet nor do I want to (their romance seems insta and I'll end up scorning the play instead of enjoying it :P) but I was intrigued by this re-telling because it seems as though the main character is The Prince of Shadows.. instead of well ROMEO.. and I look forward to the Robin Hood element.

    Great Review, Jeann!! 🙂
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  5. Oh, wow! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one:) The characters seem amazing. Even though I'm not a big Shakerspeare fan this sounds like a great retelling. I'm glad that the author is branching out to new genres and it makes me happy to see that being done successfully. Such a gorgeous review, Jeann!
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  6. Yeah! I've heard some mixed reviews on this one, so I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed it so much Jeann! I love any Romeo and Juliet retelling, and this one sounds simply fabulous! I'm loving the sound of the romance and the writing, so I'll definitely have to check this out ASAP!

    Thanks for sharing, and, as always, fantastic review!! <3
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