Monday, April 9, 2012

Shapeshifting Wise Guys: ARCADIA AWAKENS by Kai Meyer

Book cover image of Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer, published my Balzer+Bray
ARCADIA AWAKENS (Arcadien #1) by Kai Meyer
YA Paranormal
451 pages, hardcover
Available now (February 2012)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

To New Yorker Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic, and wholly unknown. But when tragedy strikes, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where her sister and aunt have built their lives and where centuries of family secrets await her. Once there, Rosa wastes no time falling head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both intrigue and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem.

Ancient myths brought to life in the Sicilian countryside, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a long history of familial bloodlust prove to Rosa that she can’t trust anyone—not even her own family. Torn between loyalty to her aunt and love for her family’s mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love . . . or run as far and as fast as she can.

Positive: Rosa and Alessandro. An admitted kleptomaniac, Rosa is snarky with a serious inner-focus and a rather hard outer shell that she's worked hard to build. Alessandro is a charming Sicilian who slides under that shell, despite the fact that Rosa's family doesn't like him or his family at all. They're a modern Romeo and Juliet, a pair that might actually have a tragic ending, unlike many of the retellings these days.

Positive: The creepy feeling of impending doom. There's something very dangerous swirling in the hot Sicilian sun and the reader isn't given too many hints as to what that is--just that it's really, really bad. 

Positive: The Mafia. Of course, we're in Sicily. There has to be Mafioso hanging around, running things, right? While that might be a stereotype, it's used very effectively in this story, adding to the feeling of darkness surrounding these two families. Plus, it's a great excuse for violence and adds some action and suspense.

Wish: Backstory. At times, there was too much but then I also felt like I didn't really know what was going on, despite all the information provided. I'm not sure if this is because the original story was written in German and it's a translation issue or my brain just being squishy (I'm voting for the latter!). This is a very intricate world the author's created here.

Overall: Dark and foreboding, ARCADIA AWAKENS takes its readers to a beautiful but deadly world.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound


  1. Aaaah I seriously can't believe I haven't read this one yet. I love dark books like this and Robin Freaking Hood dude!!!

  2. Me too I have this book in my shelf for a while, Great Review :)

  3. The mafia angle sounds really interesting and one that is kind of unique for YA, though I'd probably want more back story too, just to make sure I've got everything figured out.

  4. I admit that I find the snake on the cover a little off putting, but the book sounds pretty good otherwise! and Mafia! it usually adds a little extra to any book!

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  6. Hmmm, I really like the sound of this one but I haven't really given much thought into picking it up, mostly because I heard it was a little slow. I'm loving the sound of the Mafia aspect! Great review, mary!

  7. I love mafia related stories. Have you ever read Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman? I highly recommend it.

  8. This story sounds really interesting- I just put it on hold at the library! Thanks!