Author: Rachel Cain
Category/Genre: YA, Retellings, Romance, Historical Fiction
See it at Goodreads
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.
When it comes to Shakespeare re-tellings, Romeo and Juliet is probably the most common among the bunch. It’s also the re-telling I tend to avoid as much as I can because of the overused plot in today’s novels. We even see hints of the tragedy in various modern romances without any intention so you can imagine that it gets a bit tiring to read at times when seeking out something fresh instead.
The thing is: Romeo and Juliet is quite likely an easily named Shakespeare favorite of mine. And that’s hard to do out of the other plays that I also love. But this is another reason why I can’t bring myself to read many re-tellings with this one. It’s because I love the original so much, I can’t (and don’t usually enjoy) read most without getting too technical or picky and fussy over the piece.
Prince of Shadows was an exception. After I heard this was going to be Benvolio’s story, and that Romeo/Juliet were going to be the background characters this time, I had a strong sense I needed to read this book. It sounded different from the usual re-telling at least. And that’s exactly what it gave me. This wasn’t the typical modern re-telling. It wasn’t really a re-telling at all to be more concise about it. It was a fresh, unique story about the infamous peacemaker, Benvolio, and his very own adventure--taking place during the time period of our original characters.
There are some notable differences to the cast of characters presented in Prince of Shadows that make it its own fresh and unique tale, while still keeping it at an authentic tone and style. I was pleasantly surprised by it. The secret life of Benvolio and his late-night thievery was fun. Rosaline being a romantic interest made perfect sense. It all just wrapped beautifully together and I was thoroughly compelled by this addictive story. I didn’t want to stop reading. Not a fan of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? Prince of Shadows may just change your mind!