“But that was the thing about courage. Sometimes you had to fake it to feel it.”
This book is a lot different than what I’ve ever read before, for many reasons. The first being it’s target demographic, young adults. I usually despise reading young adult fiction, mostly because the main characters have way to many problems that I prefer to read about, and it’s usually the same set of issues for every book. However, this one I found to be a neat little twist to what you would usually find browsing the young adult section of a bookstore or website.
I first read this in 2011, so I apologize if I don’t quite catch everything, but I loved and still love this book so much I want to share it with you!
My favorite thing about this book is definitely the setting. The book starts and ends in 21st century Italy, but for the bulk of the book, readers are taken back to 14th century Italy (I believe the exact place is around Vienna, but I’m not 100% sure). I don’t read many books set in this time period, I usually stick to the 18th century and beyond, so this was a nice change. I also found the dialogue between the characters to be very believable, as well. That, to me, is one of the most important things when reading (or watching) a historical piece.
Those who enjoyed The Hunger Games will probably enjoy this too, because of the battle scenes we are invited to “watch”. This book had a nice balance between action and having a more relaxed vibe. We also get a more realistic look at the romantic “Knights in Shining Armor”. Are there knights? Yes. But the shining armor, not so much. Because this is set during the Middle Ages, we get a great look at what the Lords and Ladies of Italy may have experienced when things got a bit out of hand and people got too sensitive.
I also enjoyed the characters. They felt very believable, and it was fun reading Gabi interact with all the 14th-century Italian men and women. Speaking of Gabi, girls who find themselves celebrating girl power I think will really enjoy her character. She’s logical and intelligent, and unlike many teenage (and even adult heroines) doesn’t let the romantic stuff get to her head. Though we don’t see much of her sister Lia in this first book, those who find themselves more in tune with her will really enjoy her character development in the later books.
But if you easily turn squeamish, I advise you to maybe not read this book, or at least not before or after eating. There are some pretty descriptive battle injuries, which kind of got me squirming in my seat so just keep that in mind.
I usually try to leave you with some things I saw people got annoyed about, so here we go. I read a lot of reviews where people did not enjoy the stereotypical teenage “language” (like, totally, whatever). Which I can understand, but remember that this book is written for teenagers. Another thing is how easily Gabi is able to pick up the old Italian language, but this is explained in a later book; the longer you spend 1300’s Italy, the easier the language becomes to read and understand.
Now if you think it may annoy you, try to keep in mind that this book was written for the entertainment of teenagers; I don’t think the author thought so many older readers would be interested.
Overall, I really love this book and the rest of the series and highly recommend it to all of you.
If you are interested in reading this book, it is free on Kindle and the Kindle app! Click here to be taken to the page on Amazon.com.
If you are interested in learning more about the Italian Renaissance, click here to be taken to a short but informative article on LifeInItaly.com. Click here to be taken to a webpage on SparkNotes.com.