Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Using Romeo and Juliet as a basis for a story is guaranteed to provide teens with an initial understanding of the milieu for the book, as well as immediate familiarity with the characters. In this case, Romeo is a sidekick of sorts and Juliet barely enters (stage left or right): Benvolio is Our Hero. It's almost a teen "Rosencrantz and Guilderstern" but not as well-written.
There's a good sense of place and ambiance here, particularly how the two Houses brawl and roam around fair Verona. It might confuse readers when the clothes are being discussed (what? shirts have removable sleeves?), but that's the way things really were. It was interesting hearing such a realistic view of the role of women back then rather than having someone who breaks the rules. As for Tommasso, I was uncomfortable with that addition because while it gives some context to his "plague on both houses", his reason felt very forced, as though it wasn't enough to riff on the R&J story from a different point-of-view, we also need to subtly promote tolerance for gays. That part could have been left out with no loss to the plot, or, had the author wanted to make that statement, told this from Tommasso's point-of-view.