Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine
Genre: YA Retelling
Release Date: February 4, 2014
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…
I never liked Romeo and Juliet. I know that Shakespeare probably intended for it to be a critique Veronese society, but all I focused on was the STUPIDITY of all the characters. Like, guyz. You’re fourteen.
But THIS BOOK. I am swooning so hard over it right now. I’m convinced everyone should just read it instead of the real R&J. ASDSJKL;FDA IT WAS SO GOOD.
5 Things About Prince of Shadows
1) This is a kind of mix between Historical Fiction and Fantasy. I wouldn’t call it paranormal historical fiction, even though there are a couple magical aspects. The language in this book is very old/Shakespearean. I personally love that style like crazy, but I think it would be a drag for a lot of people to read. Towards the end there is a super awesome magical aspect that comes into play. This comes in the form of a witches’ curse and it makes everything that happens in the original R&J SO MUCH BETTER. Remember in R&J when Mercutio says, “A plague upon both your houses?” Well. I’ll just leave it at that.
2) The characters are super awesome. This book is interesting in that even though it’s a rettelling of R&J, the focus is *not* on Romeo and Juliet! Instead, the main characters are Benvolio, who is now Romeo’s cousin, and Rosaline, who is now Juliet’s. This was cool because *coughcough* Romeo is an idiot and Juliet is worse and I can’t STAND them *coughcough* it made the story feel more complete and meaningful, especially since Benvolio is the one doing all the cool things, like being the Prince of Shadows, a thief who thieves by night. (!!!) The book is narrated by Benvolio, who is developed fabulously (+ he’s a thief and awesome swordfighter, so 10/10 for Benvolio) and Rosaline is THE BEST. Reasons I like Rosaline: 1) She’s tall and I’m tall and girls in YA are NEVER TALL 2) She appears to follow all the rules and not have any power but HAHA she does. There are also other exciting characters like a witch, a Tybalt who is 10x more scary in this book, a scheming younger sister, and a tragic best friend.
3) The writing is amaaazing. Part of the reason I loved the writing so much is because it is very old without being annoying (the reason I love reading historical fiction but don’t love reading the classics). There are also some beautiful descriptions and Caine conveys emotion and FEELING so well in her writing. She also made me feel like I was there and now I want to go live in 14th century Verona. Maybe. 14th century Verona is not a very friendly place.
4) The plot is somewhat slow, but it’s still really exciting. The whole book is slowly building up to a (tragic) and satisfying crescendo. This book creeps up on you. There is also a sense of doom that hangs over the book, because this is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which is a tragedy. There are also swordfights, kissing, masquerades, near-death escapades, very much fatal escapades, and various other exciting things.
5) Ummm…ummm…this book was super awesome and you should read it right now. I *think* I covered everything… but 4 is a terrible number and so here you have this useless 5th point.
Are you a Shakespeare fan? Did you ever read Romeo and Juliet, and are you one of the few who think it’s stupid? Are you a fan of retellings? Are there any numbers you really can’t stand?
Content guide: There is some light profanity, but only a couple times.