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Monday, July 9, 2012

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Release: April 10, 2012

Source: Purchased

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.

Dead languages, secret societies, ancient quests, alchemy – oh my! The Book of Blood and Shadow stands apart from all other books of its genre, with dense prose and a style that can only be described as literary.

While reading The Book of Blood and Shadow, I was struck by how different it was from every other young adult novel I have read. There was still humor and romance, but it was all delivered in a way I have rarely glimpsed in the genre. There was something very academic about both the novel and the characters. Being highly intelligent persons working on a dangerous and historical project, their concerns were far from that of your average teenagers. And yet, there were still those similarities – confusing romance and parental problems – that buoyed the characters – and the reader. The combination was something both dark and alluring, thoroughly captivating me.

The novel also happens to contain one of the best opening chapters I have ever read. It was dark, beautiful, and incredibly intriguing. I had to know more. Upon reading those first few pages, I knew I was going to be unable to part with the story until I comprehended every deadly secret, every dark twist.

Equally stunning was the history in the novel, namely that of Prague. The layers of history and brutality contained within the city were slowly peeled away by Wasserman, making the Prague just as captivating as the plot itself. I would go so far as to say the city was a character unto itself. As Nora and her friends struggled to stay alive and unravel the centuries of mystery and secrecy surrounding the Lumen Dei, Prague took on a life of its own. It challenged and intrigued the characters as much as any timeless secret society or armed assassin. I found myself enjoying learning about Prague’s history and architecture almost as much as I enjoyed following the storyline. And, believe me, this is one storyline you will be bent on following, Wasserman is sure of that.

The book was part mystery, part history lesson, and part wonderful. If you’re looking for a read to break your literary dry spell, this is the novel for you. With its darkly inventive plot and captivating prose, The Book of Blood and Shadow is sure to have you spellbound.

4.5 stars!


  1. i'm glad you liked it so much! i started reading it... but i got bored... none of the characters appealed to me that much.

  2. I think I am now sold on this book. I wasn't before. But you liked it a lot and my best friend Mariah loved it to. Clearly I need to read it now.

  3. This book sounds awesome! I stayed away from it because of the cover, but I decided to read your review anyway. I'm glad that I did! Thanks for the review. :)


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