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Monday, July 1, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

Title: Arcadia Awakens
Author: Kai Meyer
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: February 14 2012
Publishing House: Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 9780062006066
Source of Copy: Gifted


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 or 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.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Arcadia Awakens is different. I can give it that. It somehow manages to combine the Mafia with shifters or Arcadians as they are called in the book - men and women who can shift into animals. Interesting, yes, but there were some things I wasn't exactly happy about.

Rosa Alcantara is headed for Sicily to stay with her sister Zoe and her aunt Florinda. Tragedy brought her to Sicily and staying close to her sister and taking a break from the city might help ease her mind a little. At least that's what she thinks. Rosa has always known that her family is part of the Mafia but that's about it. She knows none of their secrets, none of the inner workings of her family and their relations to other families part of their web. But when she lands in Sicily, Rosa finds out the truth about her family and she wonders if she has the strength and the smarts to navigate these dangerous waters.

I had a problem with Rosa. She was an ornery cuss and was seemingly mad at the world for no reason when I started the book. I couldn't figure out why and I initially thought that this was just her way of acting out. I didn't like this because I could not muster up any semblance of empathy for the girl because I could not fathom why she was so angry. But I forced myself to continue and about one third into the book her reasons were finally made clear. After that I sort of understood and decided to push through with the story.

I'm glad I did because Rosa is an atypical heroine. She doesn't swoon over the handsome boy she meets on the plane who is so obviously her love interest. She's a kleptomaniac, she's got issues and she just wants to deal with them before taking on Alessandro. Add to that her realizations that she's not exactly a normal girl and that big cats are out to kill her... well she's obviously got a lot on her plate. 

Arcadia Awakens also boasts of wonderful world building, the Sicilian countryside was painstakingly described in detail and the setting was easy to picture. My qualms would have to be the great information dump that involves the Arcadians, the Mafia and various sites around Sicily as well as the slow pacing and the anti-climatic ending. Maybe this is because Meyer's setting the scene for the next book and while I do appreciate the attention to detail, it's hard to get into the story and I just had a feeling that there was so much more that could have been explored with the characters and the scenes as they unfolded.

Will I be giving the next book a go? Yes. Because Rosa's story is just about to begin and I don't want to miss out on it. 




  1. This is the first time I'm hearing about this book and now it's on my TBR! Atypical heroines, woo!