Published by Penguin Australia on January 29, 2014
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