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Prince of Shadows: A Novel of Romeo and Juliet Hardcover – February 4, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—English teachers always try to sell Romeo and Juliet as teen-friendly. Students are not always convinced, but Caine's take on the classic finally makes it true. The events of the play are all here, told from the point of view of Romeo's cousin Benvolio. The city of Verona is mired in the violent gang warfare between the Montagues and Capulets. Romeo still begins the tale pining for Rosaline, until he meets Juliet at a masked ball and falls wildly in love. Mercutio remains a cousin to the city's Prince and friend to the Montagues, as well as a wit and good swordsman. But in this version, Benvolio takes center stage, a young man who amuses himself by stealing from those he deems evil. He meets Romeo's Rosaline and falls for her himself. Caine expertly weaves her story around the play, and she describes the setting and action in more modern tones. Her Mercutio is gay, a change that harms nothing of the original play, provides her story with its driving force, and adds some modern depth and appeal. This novel truly has it all: sword fighting, Benvolio's nighttime adventures as the "Prince of Shadows," intrigue, romance, curses, derring-do, murder, and magic. It should make Shakespeare that much more accessible to teens.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT
“Rachel Caine is a first-class storyteller.”— #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Charlaine Harris
Praise for Prince of Shadows:
"Smart and sexy and addictive—Rachel Caine reinvents a classic romance for a new generation of readers. The Prince of Shadows will steal your heart, then he'll break it. I'm giving this book to everyone I know."—Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures series and author of Unbreakable
"Re-visit a Shakespearean classic from a new angle. Romance and intrigue abound; I loved it!"—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series
Top customer reviews
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A retelling of the Romeo and Juliet saga but from the POV for Romeo's cousin Benvolio. Usually I am not a huge fan of books told from a male POV, but here I loved it, Benvolio has such a tortured and honest voice.
The prose is lush and atmospheric/moody.
A few examples:
"I had kissed her before, but lightly, gently, and this was no gentle thing.."
"Rosalind Capulet tasted like all I had ever wanted in my life, and now I knew that for truth"
" Then I kissed her, and I tasted tears, and flowers, fear and hope, dread and dreams. Her lips were soft and warm
like the petals of a sun heated rose.."
What a lovely homage to Shakespeare. Please read this book- Benvolio and Rosaline' s story has a HEA and you will love it!
Everyone knows the story of Juliet and her Romeo. Rachel Caine explores further into the world of Montagues and Capulets with Romeo’s cousin Benvolio taking up the story from his POV. And what of fair Rosaline, the love that Romeo seemingly overthrew for that of Juliet? Well, she piques the interest of Benvolio, our Prince of Shadows, and together they must try to stop the doom that has labeled both families as victims before everyone, including themselves, suffers.
Benvolio, a seemingly Robin Hood-type character stealing from those whom he deems have done wrong, has been told his entire life that he is the ‘extra’ Montague. His job is basically to watch after Romeo, the true heir to Montague. It was an interesting choice I believe for Caine to basically call out how often dimwitted and impulsive Romeo could be from the eyes of his (one year senior) more mature older cousin. There are many people who romanticize the love story of Romeo and Juliet when in truth they were two almost-children. The same can be said for Rosaline being Juliet’s more serious mature cousin, sister of the Prince of Cats Tybalt. Ben and Rosaline seem to take up the voice of reason where the warring families are concerned. Both ultimately want peace after seeing so much death and deception already between the houses.
What Caine did really well with this story is she fleshed out some of the characters, such as Mercutio, who already commanded attention in the original play, but we find him here a troubled and haunted young man who seeks revenge upon those responsible for his lover’s death. This also gives background to Mercutio’s famous “a plague on both your houses” quote. We get to fully understand the buildup of that moment, where this curse stems from and the magical belief that gives the curse its life. It’s really interesting thinking back to the original story with this new perspective in mind.
Prince of Shadoes does mix in some more memorable quotes and scenes from the original play (“Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?”). I found this delightful and it gave a viewpoint as to where we were in conjunction with the original story, of which I oftentimes found Prince of Shadows to drag a little in places. Where it falters is that her words don’t always necessarily match up in phrase and use to that of the great Bard. So at times the writing seems to flow very well and eloquently and other times it shows signs of the modern era in which it was written.
Knowing the story of Romeo and Juliet, Prince of Shadows cannot help but have moroseness hanging over it. Yet while reading, you keep holding on to hope that maybe Caine would change the ending. Regardless of what happens you are still left with a lot of senseless death and destruction, but it’s kind of the lesson of the story right? See these senseless acts and mourn them, but learn from them and grow and make things better. We, at least, are left with that last bit of hope for the future.
So, to sum up--
Likes: Benvolio is a likable character. The thief/Prince of Shadows aspect of his character was interesting and entertaining. I liked Mercutio and thought the whole idea of his homosexuality and the cultural response to it as an explanation for his going off the deep end interesting. I liked Rosaline and was pulling for her and Benvolio to have a happy ending after all the tragedy.
Didn't work as well for me: I was hoping for more of Romeo and Juliet, as well as the Shakespearian language that makes the play it's based on so beautiful and powerful. At times it was almost melodramatic, though I realize it is a tragedy.
Still a great book and recommended.
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