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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Novel: Prince of Shadows - Rachel Caine

Prince of Shadows is a retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but it is told from Benvolio’s perspective. It was published on February 4, 2014 by New American Library. The author, Rachel Caine, gives a story in the dedication of how this novel idea came about. It is cute and amusing and I am glad that Tybalt was just a cat because this novel is wonderfully awesome!

Honestly, the novel is more Benvolio’s story than Romeo’s. There are bits and pieces of the play in the story, but it’s true essence is the story of Benvolio Montague. Caine does not leave her audience wondering about the Prince of Shadows at all because in the first few pages we are introduced to him. In my opinion, he sounds like a Robin Hood sort of character - the whole “stealing from the rich, give to the poor” scenario - but I feel like that image of the Prince of Shadows wavers a bit as the story progresses.

I probably cannot express enough how much it is that I love Rosaline’s character! She is such a strong female character, which is something that would not be expected from a novel set in a Shakespeare tragedy. I’m not saying that Shakespeare did not write strong females, but all that we know about Rosaline from Shakespeare is that she was an object of Romeo’s affections. We never really found out much about her character. She was more of an imaginary character in the original text. In this novel, she is smart and witty and strong. It is sad to think that because she is strong willed and bookish the Capulets feel the need to send her away to be a nun instead of finding her a husband who would appreciate the lovely person that she is. It is so interesting to see how her character impacts Benvolio’s character.

The literary devices used in this novel widened my smile as I read them. They were all used so well and they added to the experience of the novel. Example of a simile: “…she could smell an evasion like a vulture scenting rot” (Caine 13). Example of an allusion: “All men must marry, lest they burn…” (Caine 96). Example of hyperbole: “A pin would have made a sound of thunder had it dropped,…” (Caine 125). Example of personification: “…the world would beat the gentleness from him, the way it had me” (Caine 158). Just to give a few examples.

This novel really is wonderful and it provided a different perspective on the Shakespeare play. You get to see how much it is that Benvolio cares for Romeo and his family despite all that he is put through. It does have that theme of family loyalty which is present in the original play. I recommend this novel for anyone who is looking for an adventure. It is far more than the Shakespeare play and definitely more interesting than the play. Check it out!

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