By: Kai Meyer
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: Feb. 14, 2012
Series: Arkadien (#1)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ALA Midwinter
Buy the Book: Amazon
Goodreads Summary: 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.
I wanted to read Arcadia Awakens as soon as I read the synopsis. With mystery, intrigue, myths with a paranormal twist, and a foreign setting, it had all of the makings of a great book. As I read I found myself completely drawn into the story, transported into a world filled with Mafia capos and shapeshifters...
In an effort to escape the recent events of her life, Rosa packs up her few belongings and boards a plane that will take her to Sicily to live with her sister and her aunt. Rosa knows that her family is part of the Mafia, but she never realized just how deeply involved they are until she is immersed in that world. To make matters worse, Rosa soon learns that Alessandro Carnevare, the boy she met on the plane and has developed feelings for, is the son of her family's biggest enemy. Yet that doesn't stop her from falling for him. But there are more to these star-crossed lovers than meets the eye. These Mafia families are part of a larger legacy, once that Rosa is only beginning to understand. As she becomes invested in the world, Rosa finds that she will have to make tough decisions about what she values most...family, love, or her own life...
Talk about a book that crosses genres, that has a story that is so easy to lose yourself in. This is a complex, rich story, and although it is slow to start, by the end it is gripping. Both the story and the characters themselves are full of surprises, and I was always eager to see what would happen next. Even though we learn so much in this book, I have a feeling that there are still more secrets to be revealed, and I am looking forward to that. In some ways, Rosa was difficult to connect with, but as the story progressed and we learned more about her I found that she was a sympathetic character. Life was certainly not easy, but she handled everything that life threw at her and proved to be a great heroine.
The one thing that I would have liked to have seen would have been more development of the relationship between Alessandro and Rosa. Although there were some very sweet moments - and steamier ones - between them, I did not feel a connection between them as a couple. I am hoping that their relationship will become richer in the next book.
From the setting to the characters to the story itself, Arcadia Awakens is a book that will stay with you for a long time. I cannot wait to read the next book in the trilogy!