Title: Arcadia Awakens (Arcadia #1)
Author: Kai Meyer
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: 14th February 2012
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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.
♔ ReviewAncient 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.
Rosa Alcantara leaves the life she's always known in the USA and goes to Sicily, to live some time with her sister Zoe and her aunt Florinda. She's always known her family's legacy - they're one of the most powerful families of the Mafia. But once she's there she will discover that there's something more about these dangerous families. Her own family's members can shift into Lamias (snakes)!
The whole setting was enthralling. I've never been to Sicily, but I've been to Italy, and if it's remotely similar, then I can just imagine how wonderful it was. I'd have liked to read more about the Italian culture, although with the Mafia there were certainly plenty of interesting things to discover.
Rosa was a mystery for most part of the book. At the beginning of the book I found her really weird. She went around stealing things! But as the story goes on we discover more of Rosa and her troubling past. If this book has taught me something, is that everything is way more than meets the eye. Unfortunately, I didn't connect much with any of the characters. They felt a little bit flat to me, as if I didn't get their feelings.
One thing that I did enjoy was how real it all felt. How the mafia worked (although I can't say much in this because I have never read anything about it before), the shapeshifting, as real as that can be. There was no magic, no POOF! I'm an animal, but there was a real transformation, there were middle stages to it. You could feel clearly the power struggles, the tension between the families and even within them.
I had great expectations of Arcadia Awakens. I'm the saddest one when admitting that it wasn't the one for me. It was definitely well-thought and it never got boring, yet I didn't find the "spark". Oh, but that doesn't mean I won't be reading the next book, Arcadia Burns.