Feb 3 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Rachel Caine’s Prince of Shadows (February 4, 2014)

Prince of Shadows by Rachel CaineRachel Caine
Prince of Shadows: A Novel of Romeo and Juliet
NAL / February 4, 2014 / $17.99 print, $10.99 digital

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.

Everyone knows the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet, but Rachel Caine's Prince of Shadows offers the story from another perspective, that of Benvolio Montague. Don’t forget everything you know about Romeo and Juliet, as Caine doesn’t stray far from the tale (she does a bit) but we get it freshly from a new perspective and we find out a few new things that will break your heart and help you understand that Romeo and Juliet weren’t the only casualties in this tale.

“Blood had been spilled, and all Christians knew that blood washed away sin.”

Benvolio is Romeo’s cousin and close friend, and at night he is the Prince of Shadows who is sort of like Robin Hood before there was a Robin Hood.  Ben spends his days watching out for his (idiot) cousin Romeo and watching for any slights made by the Capulets, while at night he rectifies those slights as the Prince of Shadows.

We all know how the story ends, but through another set of eyes it’s sort of refreshing. Romeo and Juliet aren’t around much, as this story is really more about a character we didn’t know as well as the couple.

“I enjoy taking from those who have too much,” I said. “Those who deserve to lose for their arrogance.”

What I focused more on was the dynamics between the Capulets and the Montagues.  We never do find out why the families hate each other so much, and by the time we come into the story even they aren’t even sure why. It’s just something that is and has been for many years. There are clear power struggles between the two houses, and even inside each house there are inner wars.

“Measure for measure, that’s how we play, is it not?”

With their own families so quick to turn on each other, it really is no wonder things turned out the way they did for the families.  

“Cursed be the Capulets. Cursed be the house that betrayed us.”

Benvolio decides to keep a secret that sets in motion what will soon end in the tragic deaths of both Romeo and Juliet. Benvolio’s own sister and grandmother turn on his other best friend, Mercutio, and in doing that, damn both Capulet and Montague households for eternity.  Regardless, had he told on the two evil women in his life things more then likely would have turned out the same.

We also find out that women are treated like brood mares, married young to much older men and very under-educated. Some are mean of spirit, but most often they no longer have spirit as it has been taken out of them knowing how they will spend the rest of their years. But sadly, women do not have it the worst in Verona—that goes to the homosexuals.

“Why did you not help?”

I hated myself, as much as I hated any of the men on that rope.

Because I was just as much to blame.

In Caine’s retelling, there are gay characters and we find out they are punished immediately, even if the rumors are untrue. These scenes are the most heart retching and most painful parts to read in Prince of Shadows.

“Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene.”

Even more heartbreaking than Romeo and Juliet, Prince of Shadows changes up a familiar story and keeps the punches coming.

Learn more or pre-order a copy of Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine, available February 4, 2014:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Natasha Carty reviews Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy on her website Wicked Little Pixie and lives in Toronto, Canada, with her cat, Seamus.

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