Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer
|Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A blend of action thriller and paranormal romance set in Sicily. Bookbag recommends this book for interesting characters and wonderful scene-setting.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 332||Date: March 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Rosa can't wait to get away from New York. En route to Sicily to be reunited with sister Zoe and her continental extended family, she makes sure every aspect of her American life is deleted, right down to the songs on her iPod. Arriving in Palermo, she's thrown into a sinister Mafia underworld filled with murder, corruption and clan rivalries going back more generations than you could shake a stick at. Zoe seems at home in this world but Rosa kicks against it right from the outset. Her rebelliousness is only exacerbated by the mutual attraction that springs up between Rosa - an Alcantra - and Alessandro - a Carnevare. Romance between scions of warring clans? It can't be tolerated.
But there's more than a Romeo and Juliet love story here. Rosa and Alessandro discover that the clan warfare is not just about twenty-first century business interests - it's also about an ancient myth of a civilisation of shape-shifters. Can they uncover the dark secrets of the past before a terrifying savagery is unleashed on the present?
Readers used to paranormal fiction from across the Pond will appreciate the different feel Arcadia Awakens has. Meyer isn't afraid of indiscriminate deaths - not just the baddies or a single sacrifice of one of the goodies. So don't assume your favourite character will make it to the final page. Mine didn't! And you'll find taboo topics covered - abortion is an important character motivation, for example - that most US writers wouldn't touch with a bargepole. And the book isn't shoved into a genre pigeonhole, so it covers mystery thriller, kickass action and paranormal romance.
I liked Rosa, the central character, who begins the story as a lonely, spikey, embittered adolescent, desperate to leave her old life behind and who ends it as an intelligent, strong young woman with positive hopes for the future, ready to face the challenges ahead. Sharp-tongued Rosa makes an impact from the very first page and I liked her even before Meyer gradually revealed her backstory, which made me like her even more. And I loved the Sicilian setting, so vividly and evocatively described. The pace is fast but not so fast as to allow important moments to be rushed through, and Anthea Bell's translation is pitch perfect.
It's a recommendation from Bookbag, and we're looking forward to the second book in this trilogy.
I think you might also enjoy Heaven by Christoph Marzi, another book combining action and the supernatural, written by German author and featuring vivid evocations of a particular place - this time, London.
Kai Meyer was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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