I’d not read any books by Robin Wasserman before but when I heard about The Book of Blood and Shadow, I was intrigued. Part murder/mystery with a generous helping of alchemy and a sprinkling of faith, this is an intelligent book for older readers, interested in more than just a paranormal romance. Here’s the synopsis:
“It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.
But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.
Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.”
Okay, first of all, what is with all these YA books coming out that have some sort of combination of the words “blood”, “shadow”, “bone” etc. It’s confusing and I don’t know about you but I’ve mixed up several titles already which does make for some slight amusement amongst bookish friends. Regardless, I would describe The Book of Blood and Shadow as Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code meets End of Days. It’s one of those stories where you’re never quite sure who to trust and you don’t fully know what’s going on until the end. It’s abundantly clear that Robin has done a ton of research in order to write the book and this should be commended first and foremost. It’s refreshing to see an intelligent plot line and one which I have not seen before in YA literature. My only criticism of the book is that in my opinion, it is too long. At 432 pages, I have to say that approaching 300 pages, I was losing steam and could not wait to get to the end. It is most definitely an interesting book but not one that can be read in one sitting and not one that I found myself rushing home from work to read.
I have to say that I was really confused about the relationships in the book. First off, we’re introduced to Nora who is best friends with Chris and his girlfriend Adriane. Nora has what looks from the outset as a flirty relationship with Chris when really she is the third wheel in this scenario. I think it makes for an awkward dynamic. Along comes Max who quite honestly, acts like a dick for the majority of the book and I would have kicked him to the kerb a long time ago but Nora puts up with him. Now, Ely is arguably the better guy and whilst there were elements of flirting between him and Nora, nothing ever came of it which is a shame. Perhaps it was harmless banter between the two characters but I believe the reader was led on and this was disappointing.
Having said all that, I did enjoy the book for the most part and my favourite aspect was the way the past interweaved with the present by way of the connection between Elizabeth Weston and Nora Kane. I also enjoyed the Latin element and the fact that the reader goes on an adventurous journey to Prague. Overall, this is a really difficult review to write because I did enjoy the story which was really interesting and unique but I'm afraid it went on far too long for me.
The Book of Blood and Shadow was published on 19th January, 2012 in the UK and will be published on 10th April, 2012 in the US. The kindle version is also available now. To find out more about Robin and her books, please click here to visit her website. She is also active on Facebook and Twitter.