Review: Prince of Shadows

Rachel Caine - Prince of Shadows

A thrilling retelling of the star-crossed tale of Romeo and Juliet, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series.

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.

I studied Romeo and Juliet when I was 15 and I can’t say I was the biggest fan of it. However, for whatever reason, my favourite character was probably Benvolio, so when I discovered that this existed I knew I had to read it. And I definitely enjoyed it, although I did have a few problems.

Anyway, in this retelling, we see everything from Benvolio’s point of view and it’s definitely an interesting take on the original story. I liked the way Caine kept to a lot of the scenes in the play, but also changed some thing – for example, the fact that Benvolio is an amazing thief. I loved this addition to the story and it definitely made things more interesting.

Benvolio himself was a great character and I liked his loyalty to his house and his friends. I can’t say I liked the romance between him and Rosaline as much as I was hoping too, because it felt far too similar to Romeo and Juliet’s romance with the only difference being they put duty first instead of each other. Talking of Romeo and Juliet, I did like the way their characters were written and I felt that their personalities were very similar to the original play. This goes for pretty much all of the characters, especially Mercutio. He was even more outgoing in this book and I loved his backstory and the changes Rachel Caine had made.

However, one of my main problems was the way the actual book was written. There were things I liked, like the letter/diary excerpts that turned up every so often, but I did get annoyed with some of the chapters some times. I’m not a fan of long chapters but usually I’ll live with it. However, this book did have one chapter that was 80 pages long! I’m pretty sure that’s too long, by anybody’s standards.

The other thing that bothered me was the dialogue. It wasn’t so much that it felt flat or stiff, but more because of the difference between the dialogue from the scenes in the play and the dialogue in Caine’s own scenes. On the whole, the scenes from the play were word for word with Shakespeare which I thought was really cool and interesting, but it didn’t fit with the way the characters talked for the rest of the book. This was only a small thing though, and it didn’t put me off at all.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and although there were problems, it was a definitely worth the read.

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