Title: Prince of Shadows
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Cupcake: German Chocolate Cupcakes
Quick Rating: 1 star. Boo.
Let me first of all make something very clear: I live for Romeo and Juliet spinoffs about Benvolio and Rosaline. They are my Romeo and Juliet, and I will read any book that mentions them, while the R&J books hold 0 interest for me. And as a whole, these books do not disappoint. Still Star-Crossed (Taub) for example, was amazing.
Prince of Shadows was not.
What I expected:
- Thieves (A prince of shadows, to be specific)
- Intrigue surrounding this mysterious thief, and Rosaline’s attempts to uncover him—perhaps even being courted by this mystery man, until GASP! it’s Benvolio Montague!
- A swoony romance, OF COURSE
- Some Capulet/Montague drama
- A decent, if not happy, ending.
WHAT I GOT:
- Benvolio and Rosaline talking 1 time in the first 100 pages, and not more than 5 times throughout the book
- A random, all-consuming love
- Mercutio’s boyfriend
- Mercutio and his boyfriend
- Mercutio flipping out after said boyfriend is killed
- Mercutio still flipping out
- Romeo being an idiot
- Mercutio wanting to get people (and himself killed)
- Mercutio, Mercutio, Mercutio
- People being killed
- OH BY THE WAY IT’S ALL A CURSE THAT MERCUTIO PAID A WITCH TO COOK UP???
- Benvolio and Rosaline are suddenly, desperately in love, only because of this curse, not because of any real connection.
- They’re caught “in carnal embrace”
- More people die
- More people are about to die
- And suddenly, everything is fine and dandy, everyone is hugging, and peace is upon Verona.
So…it wasn’t really about Ben and Ros. It was more like a shady retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but without all the important information, told by a bland narrator who doesn’t really know what’s going on half the time, and a witch and a curse, because clearly the love of R&J is madness and can only be the result of black magic. (Which I sort of agree with, but I am not interested in the reasons behind two stupid kids killing themselves after knowing each other a week.)
There was no whip-smart banter. They barely spoke more than a few times, and Caine (in an attempt to remain Shakespearean, perhaps?) riddled what conversations they did have with random, meaningless phrases like “easier meat, but tougher sauce.” Can someone explain that to me? I’m easy meat, but tough sauce? What? I don’t…why? Where did you come up with that? Or if you got it from Shakespeare, please give it back to him.
The plot was nonexistent. This book spent so much time on the emotional development of Mercutio that I forgot it was supposed to be a Benvolio and Rosaline romance. Every third sentence was about how Mercutio was acting/looking/feeling/changing, and although I do normally love Mercutio, I did not love his totally OOC deal in this book.
I’m also SO ticked that Caine didn’t capitalize on her chance to really form Benvolio’s alter ego as the Prince of Shadows, and that it played so little a part besides filler space to pass the time. I didn’t care for most of the dialogue, period, and I found the pacing to be waaaay off as well. I love me a good friendship story, but this was too much, especially when I went into it expecting a little romance in Verona and found sorcery that I was thoroughly annoyed by. I’ll admit that I skimmed the last 40 pages or so.
Overall, 1 star. Someone find me a different Ros/Ben story that focuses on THEM, not Mercutio and Romeo and Juliet and their miserable lives.
I hate when I have to assign cupcakes to negative reviews, because no cupcakes are EVER negative. I chose this German Chocolate beauty (recipe and image source from the amazing The Kitchen is My Playground) because there’s sooo much going on here. Lots of chocolate, chocolate frosting, and gooey coconut pecan topping all combine in this new take on a classic. Likewise, Prince of Shadows was a new take on a classic tale, but it didn’t work half as well as these cupcakes do. There was a lot going on, but none of it flowed, and none of it worked to make something yummy. Bummer for the book, but don’t doubt for a second that these cupcakes can take the sting of disappointment away.