Book Review: Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine

22 Jan

Prince of Shadows**The following review is based on a NetGalley e-reader copy of the book, which I received for free in exchange for an unbiased review.

Charged with protecting his cousin’s life and reputation, Benvolio Montague starts with the trying but manageable task of keeping Romeo from Rosaline, a Capulet. Then Mercutio’s lover is hanged, and Mercutio–a shadow of himself–sets a plague on both their houses. A plague which is driving Romeo mad with love. The streets of Verona run red with blood and an undercurrent of power changing hands. A thrilling, fast-paced pursuit of answers follows, spurred by the fear that all star-crossed lovers may be lost… and not just Romeo and Juliet.

These past few months, it has been a rare thing for me to pick up a book and feel that excitement to turn to the next page all throughout. Prince of Shadows never once left my thoughts as I was reading it.

It is perfectly executed, running parallel to the play and overlapping where necessary, but it is clear that it was never really about Romeo and Juliet. Written in an almost Shakespearean tone–if Shakespearen language were fully accessible to, say, high school students–the book justifies the less believable aspects of the tragedy without compromising the bard’s story. The two are seamlessly interwoven and complement each other.

And while those who have read and enjoyed the play will undoubtedly get more out of Prince of Shadows in terms of humor and references than others who have less-than-fond memories of laboring through the text in their high school English class, this book is not only for Shakespeare fans. You do not need solid knowledge of the play in order to enjoy this book–in fact, your experience might be even more thrilling than for those of us who knew what was to come. It is packed with action, mystery, political intrigue, friendship, magic, and love both lost and gained.

Your heart will thump with the Prince of Shadows as he runs from the guards, you will weep with Mercutio, and love with Romeo. Spellbound, these pages will hold you fast until you’ve finished the last word. But I won’t tell you if this tragic tale has a happy ending–you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

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