6 May 2012


Author: Kai Meyer
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Templar
UK Release date: February 2012
Genre: Paranormal
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

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. (Goodreads)

Arcadia Awakens wasn’t what I expected. It was quite a mature urban fantasy with violence and blood and mafia gang crime. It was refreshing to read a story that felt more adult and had a 'rough around the edge' feel to it, with a ballsy protagonist and unpatronising writing. In addition, the mysterious Sicilian Mafia world was very unique, with a rugged, exotic and rather scary feel. It felt like there was danger waiting around every corner, with car chases, kidnappings, double dealings and shootouts. With their dangerous rivalry and forbidden love, the Carnevares and the Alcantaras families living on the were like the modern day Montagues and Capulets and fitted perfectly into the mafia scene.

Arcadia Awakens features shape shifting abilities passed down through families and has its roots in Greek mythology. Rather than werewolves, Meyer has picked unusual animals – snakes and big cats. I’m intrigued as to where the idea for these in particular came from. Was it mythological research or a creative decision? Either way, it brought an exotic and distinct feel to the story, as well as an element of mystery surrounding the history of the two families.

Rosa was a very gutsy protagonist, willing to face danger and threat head on. Her traumatic past has left its emotional scar on her, but she hasn’t refused to give up. She's stubborn, and doesn't listen when she's told to stay away from Alessandro. However her harsh exterior and outspoken attitude does open up to at times to let us see her caring and sensitive side. When it comes to young Iole, Rosa will do anything to save her. But when it comes to Alessandro, Rosa has a big blind spot. She risked truces, safety and sensiblity to see him. Whilst he would do anything to protect Rosa, there were doubts about whether he could ever put her first before his family and the family 'business'. I was glad that Rosa didn't just drop at his feet but still kept her head when she needed to.

Although the story wasn't my favourite so far this year, I certainly think it deserves more attention than it has had. Arcadia Awakens combines the dangerous Cosa Nostra with shapeshifting, love, and betrayal, all of which is set against a rugged Sicilian landscape to create a modern day Romeo & Juliet.

Rating: 3.5*


Cliona said...

Awesome review! This doesn't really sound like my thing, but I'm glad you liked it!

Jamie Gibbs said...

I like the mix of traditional mythology with the modern gangster vibe. Cheers for the review :)