Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

I’m just going to come right out and say it: there aren’t enough books about the mafia in Young Adult literature today. That’s part of what I love so much about Holly Black’s Curse Workers series, since it helps fill that void. Now she’s getting some worthy companionship in the form of Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer.

Originally published in Germany in 2009, the English translation of Arcadia Awakens hits stores in the U.S. today — and is definitely one you should be adding to your “To Be Read” list!

Arcadia Awakens follows 17-year-old Rosa Alcantara who escapes a disastrous life in the United States to join her estranged relatives in Sicily, where her family is deeply entrenched in the high-risk, high-rolling life of the Mafia. It’s in Italy where she meets and falls for Alessandro Carnevare … the only problem is, their two families are sworn enemies. This doesn’t stop the star-crossed lovers from seeing each other, but it certainly adds another layer of trouble to their lives amidst other Mafioso turmoil.

Family bloodlust, feuding relatives, secret plots, and creatures roaming the hills of Sicily with oddly familiar eyes. It all culminates in a bloody climax that will keep you frantically turning the pages until the very end.

Arcadia Awakens is a brilliant new twist to readers’ long fascination with the Mafia, and though written for teen readers, Meyer doesn’t shy away from the more brutal and violent aspects of this world. This isn’t a romanticized mafia — but it’s also not the one you’d find in the pages of a Mario Puzo novel. Meyer uses the supernatural to give his story a unique twist and elevate the dramatic tension even further.

Compelling characters, emotional turmoil, and no-holds-barred action: Arcadia Awakens is a perfectly-paced, romantic mystery that unfolds in the backdrop of Mafia-run Sicily.

Though the English translation is occasionally a bit stuttered, it never took away from my enjoyment of the book. In fact, as I closed the last chapter, I longed for more — and was delighted to learn it’s actually the first in a trilogy. (And considering how weary I am of multi-book series these days, the fact that I’m excited about two more books is a really big deal!)

Arcadia Awakens is in stores today! Here is the official synopsis:

To 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 her life in Brooklyn begins to fall apart, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where centuries of family secrets await her.

Once there, Rosa falls head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both fascinate 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.

Hidden caves, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a history of familial bloodlust mean that Rosa can’t trust anyone. Torn between loyalty to her family and love for their 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.

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