3 stars for Rooks and Romanticide by J. I. Radke #MM #Fantasy #Historical @Dreamspinners


Title: Rooks and Romanticide
Author Name & Publisher: J. I. Radke (DSP Publications)
Publication Date & Length: July 28, 2015 — 250 Pages


In an alternate world, Romeo and Juliet are gunslingers. Verona gives way to a steampunk Victorian London. The victims of turf wars are dumped in an alley they call Lovers’ Lane, and the moment the son of his family’s enemy touches his face, Cain’s revenge is poisoned by love. Fate would have it no other way.

Levi Ruslaniv is the heir to the Ruslaniv family gang, but ridiculous ancient feuds do not interest him. Cain Dietrich’s vengeful hatred for the Ruslaniv family is rooted deep, since he believes the Ruslanivs arranged for the murder of his parents. But his encounter with Levi pierces him deeper than hatred ever could.

With bullets and blazes of glory, schemes, spies, and pack mentalities, loyalty runs as deep in the veins as passion or revenge, and there is only one way to end the fighting. From the start it was inevitable—a bloodstained fate for children with bloodstained hands, and the streets of New London will never be the same.

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Rooks and Romanticide is a moody, gay retelling of Romeo and Juliet in atmospheric old London. Despite knowing the premise (and the ending) I really enjoyed the ride JI Radke provided.
Cain is a tortured soul bent on revenge. Levi comes only for fun but is compelled by his lover’s pain. There’s a lot of violence and a lot of darkness. I felt for the characters.
I appreciated the flowery language that was a tribute to Shakespeare, not a repetition. It added to the otherworldliness and romanticism of the story. I would have liked Radke to show me new things and go more into the unknown, rather than to rehash ancient woes. Hopefully there’s more from this author soon.
– C. E. Case


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J. I. Radke goes by a variety of handles and pseudonyms, most commonly “themissinglenk” and/or “white silver and mercury.”

Once upon a time he wanted to be a marine biologist because of sharks. That lasted a year or so. Now he is an English/Creative Writing and History double major (emphasis on 18th/19th c. Western Europe, Classic mythology, and the history/psychology/theory of masculinity and sexuality), minoring in Russian Studies.

Radke writes ghost stories, romance novels, transgressive fiction, and “fanfic” that’s sometimes all of that in one. He doesn’t favor polemics, but he does believe in passionate speeches, discussions, and intellectual debates (best ones after midnight under the stars). He also believes in ghost hunting, swimming in coves with bioluminescent algae, zodiac/Tarot/moon cycles, sushi, Phad Thai, and pizza. He doesn’t do quite as well with Ferris wheels.

Born in New Jersey but raised all over the U.S., Seattle is home to Radke.

Maybe one of these days he’ll embellish this bio with a very clever quote from some respected historical figure or another.


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