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8.25.2011

Review: Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
Young Adult, Romance, Classic Retelling, Fantasy
Hardcover $17.99 (320 pages, DELACORTE)
Ebook $10.99

"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.

Author Site: StaceyJay.com

Exceptional, Imaginative, Immortal (5 stars)

Traditionally I like to summarize the plot of a book in my own words at the start of a review but to do so with this one would be quite involved. I think it's fairly safe to say everyone knows the basics of Shakespeare's tragedy enough to have the basics. But what if that was only part of the story? What if it was a fabrication used to taunt the real Juliet because the truth was that Romeo murdered her in exchange for eternal life? Keep asking what-ifs and you'll wind up with a good idea of what Jay's novel does to this otherwise beloved and loathed classic. Whether you believe in star-crossed love and soul-mates or not this violent and fresh spin on the classic is a must-read.

Complex and layered there's some heavy duty fantasy world-building at work here. Juliet has been pulled onto one side of an endless eternity fighting her former true love. Sent out into the world to protect lovers from Romeo's dark influence she has lost much of her sense of self. Each time she returns to Earth she inhabits a body long enough to ensure true lovers reach the point when nothing can tear them assunder. Meanwhile her former love has been cursed with a different type of eternal life in which he recruits others into the side that seeks to feed the violent, selfish immortality he exists in. But fewer and fewer true loves have come to be as time goes on and the time for action, a chance to break from their immortality as servants may require them to work together... a choice Juliet will have to make for better or for worse.

What a great twist on the classic. I am a Romeo and Juliet fan and have been since long before the high school English class where I performed both Romeo and Juliet's roles. Even though I don't quite believe in the whole soulmates thing it's an idea that's romantic and unrealistic but sweet. When I heard that one of my favorite authors was taking the classic and not retelling it but twisting it I could hardly wait. Fortunately Jay has managed to pull off a very dark and multi-layered storyline that I think will appeal to both the lovers and the haters of the classic. Fans of R&J will love the romantic storyline and the ending which I will honestly say had me floored and so excited for the sequel, ROMEO REDEEMED, I can hardly stand it. Haters will find the idea of Romeo being a villain pretty amusing and will most likely enjoy seeing the classic sap get a good bruising.

It takes a lot to really blow me away when it comes to Young Adult fiction but JULIET IMMORTAL managed to be both shocking and fresh. She really breathed new life into a trope that is so overdone even fans of the cliche get sick of it. One thing Jay's fans will love is that even though this is dark and lacks the snark her earlier work does so brilliantly she manages to make the setting an entity of its own, something I feel she excells in. If you loved what she did for Donaldsonville, LA in DEAD ON THE DELTA you'll love Solvang, California. It's something I feel is a bit lacking in the genre with a few exceptions and for me adds a certain immersive quality that makes a story feel more real to me.

There's so much I could say regarding this story and my enjoyment of it but it's definitely one I almost feel too strongly about to be a truly fair and objective reviewer. Let me just encourage anyone who ever had to read Romeo and Juliet for school, no matter whether they liked or loathed it, to give it a read. I think this has something to offer anyone who is familiar with the story and enjoys a good bit of entertaining fiction, especially dark romances.



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Notes: ARC received via Amazon Vine.

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