Thursday, August 25, 2011

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

From Random House:
"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.
Most people I know tolerated Shakespeare in school.  A necessary evil to get a passing grade... Not me, I found a home in his prose.  I have a huge, leather bound, gold embossed, lovely tome of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (a long ago birthday present from Bel & my brother).  This book is sacred to me, one of my most prized possessions.  Naturally, I generally hate it when people bastardize Shakespeare (I cannot even fathom watching the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo & Juliet).  Given this, I shocked myself and Nat by picking up Juliet Immortal.  Admittedly, I never thought I would finish the book.  I figured my curiosity would leave me a chapter or two into the book.  I was wrong.  I went from a premise I was sure I would hate, to a book I could not put down.
Evil Romeo?  An epic battle of good and evil between Romeo & Juliet?  Unfathomable, and yet it caught my attention and forced me to become immersed in this book.  Juliet, as a force of light, fighting for love and protecting soul mates, despite having been so cruelly denied her own happy ending, could have been a complete cliche, begging for someone to reach into the book and beat her up, yet I found that the author tempered Juliet's anger and bitterness with true concern for others and a desire to do good in the world.  She also possessed an inner strength that made her not only tolerable, but likable.  Juliet is fueled by righteous anger and a need for revenge by blocking Romeo's attempts to destroy soul mates. 
Juliet's current assignment requires her to face her past and examine who and what she has become.  It also requires Juliet to search her own soul to see if she can find forgiveness and love for someone that she has hated for centuries to avoid a fate worse than hell.  Romeo for his part was wickedly evil and charming at times.  His cruelty is tempered by moments, just glimpses of the man he was, before.  This passage from Shakespeare's play kept popping into my mind as I read, especially the portions from Romeo's point of view.
"Love is a smoke rais'd
with the fume of sighs;
Being purg'd, a fire spark-
ling in lovers' eyes;
Being vex'd, a sea
nourish'd with lovers' tears.
What is it else? A madness
most discreet,
A choking gall, and a
preserving sweet."
Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare
I had no idea where Stacey Jay would take this tale, even right up to the end I could not figure it out.  Juliet Immortal is fast, action-packed, fun with heart.  There's humor, intrigue and murder - just the way Shakespeare liked it.  I give Juliet Immortal 4 stars for keeping me thoroughly entertained and desperate to get to the end.   
~ Shel

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