Author: Anne Fortier
Pages: 444 (I have an ARC, so page numbers in finished copies may be different)
Source: Publisher for review
Summary (From back of book):
When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a winding and perilous journey into the history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo rocked the foundations of medieval Siena. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in Shakespeare's unforgettable blood feud, she begins to realize that the notorious curse -- "A plague on both your houses!" -- is still at work, and that she is the next target. It seems that the only one who can save Julie from her fate is Romeo -- but where is he?
My Two Cents:
Anyone who knows me knows my love for Shakespeare. And anyone who knows me also knows my hatred for Romeo and Juliet. I'm not even going to go into that here except to say that, if there were as awesome a back story in Shakespeare's play as there is in this novel, I might like it a little more.
Fortier uses the famous play as a jumping-off point for her story. She places a modern main character, Julie, right into the thick of an ancient family feud full of blood and death and secrets. When Julie's aunt dies, she has no idea this feud or these families even exist, yet she is left to unravel a 600-year-old mystery on her own. And the mystery just keeps getting deeper and deeper, including not only three families, but an entire town and that town's history. It's a stunning accomplishment, really, the back story that Fortier creates. It unravels bit by bit, and people who once appeared enemies become friends, until it all comes together in the end. I loved how rich that back story was.
Julie was also a fabulous main character. She's sassy enough to get by in another country on little else besides her wits, even when being chased by men with guns, but she's got insecurities for miles. She's not your typical "I'm going to solve this mystery and no one will get in my way or bring me down" kind of character. I found her really easy to relate to.
Honestly, I'm going to stop my review there to keep from gushing too much. This is a fabulous read. I highly, highly recommend it!