Prince of Shadows

Written by Rachel Caine
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

Did you ever wonder, when reading Romeo and Juliet, about the staid, reasonable, slightly dull Benvolio? If you did, in this book Rachel Caine provides you with an answer, making him the half-English “spare Montague” and, at night, a daring thief – for both profit and the hell of it. With Benvolio a sort of Robin Hood, Romeo a bumbling, if good-hearted fool, Mercutio more than a little mad, Juliet an insignificant child, and Rosaline a much pluckier Capulet, the old tale soon twists and turns out of familiar ground. Perhaps, with its very, very vague late-medieval setting, Prince of Shadows is not so much a historical novel as a retelling with a supernatural twist, good characters and a likable narrating voice – occasionally awkward in its mix of Shakespearean and un-Shakespearean language. Unfortunately, in recreating her violent and dangerous Verona, Caine seems to have relied on a modern map of the city, and so has her characters visit such places as Via Mazzini, a street named after a 19th-century father of Italian unification.