Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Translated from its original German, Arcadia Awakens is a modern day Romeo and Juliet tale mixed with Mafia intrigue and just a splash of the paranormal. Rosa Alcantara is the Juliet character in the novel, an American who relocates to the island of Sicily after experiencing heartbreaking personal trauma. She meets Alessandro Carnevare on the plane, son of the head of a rival Mafia family. Though they don’t get along at first, Alessandro and Rose end up falling in love.

As Rosa settles into her new life, she discovers a secret about her family that will greatly affect her own future as well as her budding relationship with Alessandro. While both of their respective families attempt to control them, they must decide whether their love is worth risking their lives–and the future of their families.

There is more to Carnervares and Alcantaras than meets the eye, however; they shape shift into panthers and snakes, respectively. It’s Alessandro who reveals this nugget of information to Rosa when he gives her a copy of Aesop’s Fables, a collection of stories about animals with human tendencies. This isn’t at all a new concept to me, but I loved how Kai Meyer relates it to Aesop’s Fables. Once their origins were revealed, I became even more invested in this book.

Though I like the concept of the book, the story never really came alive to me. It was a roller coaster ride from beginning to end: at page 181 it began to pick up, and then slowed down again. Then in another hundred pages it picked up again for me, until I finally began to lose nearly all of my interest. I’m fascinated by Meyer’s definition of Arcadia, which is possibly the only thing to tempt me to read further in this series.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Balzer + Bray. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.