Author: Kai Meyer
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, AWESOME, PNR
Publication Date: February 12, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Traded-for ARC
Summary: Following the brutal deaths of her sister and aunt, Rosa Alcantara has become what she never thought possible: the very rich and very powerful head of the Alcantara clan. Saddled with this immense responsibility, Rosa must now conduct all business matters–legitimate and not–while negotiating among the greedy, bloodthirsty members of her own family. Not to mention convincing everyone that her blossoming relationship with enemy Alessandro Carnevare won’t put the family business in danger.
But loving Alessandro comes at a price. As Rosa continues to fall for him, she discovers the dark secrets of his family’s dealings and how they intersect with her own painful past. She wants to believe she can trust Alessandro, but they’re so different: Alcantara and Carnevare, snake and panther. How can she love someone whose family wants her dead?
When Rosa and Alessandro uncover an ancient conspiracy intent on destroying both clans, they will do anything to stop it. Racing to put the pieces together, evading their relatives’ murderous feud, and learning what it means to control the most influential families in all of Sicily–the two teens must risk everything to love each other and survive.
☆: 4.5/5 stars – another slam dunk for Meyer!
Review: Meyer does it again, guys! With no trace of middle book syndrome whatsoever, I didn’t think he could make me love Rosa or Alessandro more but he did. If you’ve read “Arcadia Awakens”, you’re in for a treat in “Arcadia Burns” – where the stakes (and the body count) have never been higher, the action scenes any bloodier, nor the romance never hotter. Seriously one of my favorite sequels of 2013 so far, this one has it all.
So, guys, be warned – this one has some seriously heavy subject matter in it. Yes, there’s all of the wacky Mafia shenanigans we saw in book one, but there’s also the matter of finding out some seriously terrible details about Rosa’s rape and other things in that vein of things. Though thankfully nothing about the rape is graphic, it’s still enough information to give you chills. So, warning, there’s some pretty triggery content in this installment of the Arkadien trilogy.
However. It also makes for wonderful worldbuilding. Meyer did a great job of setting up his world in book one, and now he’s finishing it up with filling in the backstory for pretty much all of our main cast here in book two. When you have a book that has any fantasy elements, I can’t emphasize how important character histories/backstories are in the worldbuilding arena of things, and Meyer totally, once again, nailed it.
We also get more character development, which happens pretty early on in this second book. Particularly, when Rosa and her mother Gemma are talking – it forces Rosa to really stop and take a look at what being a capi is doing to her. Will she become like her aunt and grandmother – literally, a cold-hearted snake that will do anything to keep her grip on her clan? Or is Rosa made of sturdier, better stuff? The answer isn’t easy, and Rosa has to grapple with a lot of things that require her faith in various people (her mother, Alessandro, Valerie, and to some extent, Travini) when it’s being tested the most. We also get more backstory on the fall of Arcadia and more on other clans within the dynasties (specifically, the Hundinga – dogs/wolves – which we didn’t really hear about in book one), and we get the tease of the mystery of the organization known as TABULA. As far as the latter is concerned, because it looks like TABULA is going to be pretty much most of book three (“Arcadia Falls”), we’re not given too many answers here, just enough to work with, and far more questions to set us up for book three’s content.
I could have used a little more suspicion on Rosa’s part toward Alessandro – I felt things were a little too peaceful between them considering how deeply his family is entrenched in the nastier parts of Rosa’s past (no spoilers, but let’s just say a lot of this was NOT under Alessandro’s control), but I did like the way that they were having problems literally keeping their human forms when making out. I thought that was awesome. I also liked the idea of the TABULA serum (before we find out what it really is) giving Rosa and Alessandro an out and thus, a way to be together without turning into snake and panther the whole time.
As for Big Reveals – this book is full of them. Who was involved in Rosa’s rape? Who ordered it? Who is the mysterious Apollonio, and how deep are his dealings with not only the Alcantara but other Arcadian dynasty clans? Where are the statues on the seabed near Isola Luna going? What is TABULA and their agenda? And what’s with the fur coats that Constanza kept in the freezer? While we don’t get all of the answers, we get more than enough to work with, and more than enough to really solidify the world. There’s a lot of tension and action that’s very well-paced and interspaced between these questions, and it all moves very, very smoothly. The translator did a great job in this area because it all flows very easily – to the extent you’d think that this trilogy was actually written in English and not German in the first place. If you thought the first book was full of enough animal chases, bullets flying everywhere, and murder after murder – well, get your body ready for book two, because there’s heaps more of that in this book compared to book one. And it all works marvelously.
Final verdict? If you liked “Arcadia Awakens”, you’re going to LOVE “Arcadia Burns”. I know I did. Definitely one of my picks for the best of 2013 so far, “Arcadia Burns” is out now in North America through HarperTeen. Definitely make sure to check it out when you can, and if you haven’t started the series yet – well, what are you waiting for?