Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow, by Robin Wasserman

At the beginning of The Book of Blood and Shadow, we are told that Chris, one of the main characters is dead. It appears that this book is a  murder mystery. Well, it is that, but it's MUCH more than that.

Nora is our narrator, and she is doing an independent study during her senior year that involved translating Latin letters that were written about 400 years ago. That's right. Nora knows Latin. When most youngsters were taking piano lessons, Nora was taking Latin lessons from her father.

She is doing the translation for a university professor, and her best friend, Chris also works for the professor, as well as his roommate Max. It would stand to reason that while spending all that time together in a little room with nothing to do but translate old texts a romance would bloom. And it does. There are other well-defined characters, Adriane and Eli in particular, that are also essential.

So the question is, how do the translations of these 400-year-old letters relate to the murder of Chris? Well, that's the story. And it's a great one, well-told. Involving intrigue, conspiracies, religion, danger, and even romance. There's supposedly a machine called the Lumen Dei, that the letters give clues about. Apparently this machine allows one to communicated directly with God. There are people who want this machine. There are people who think this machine should be destroyed. But, it doesn't even exist, does it?

The Book of Blood and Shadow was a bit of a slow starter for me. I really grew to love the characters, especially Nora, so I was willing to immerse myself in her development. After things take off, it was unputdownable. Nora ends up in Prague trying to secretly meet Max after his disappearance. The setting and situations they find themselves in were very believable, and palpable. Wasserman does a great job making you feel you are in the back streets of Prague with these characters.

The plot took some unexpected twists and turns that were creative and exciting! I really had no idea how things were going to turn out, until they did. Nora is not the typical YA "kick-ass heroine." She's smart and determined, but physically depends on others (males) to rescue her. I kind of found this refreshing.  I love physically adept girls, but not all of us are -- and brains help too!

The book is long, detailed, and included a complex vocabulary so it's not for the average teen reader. But those that enjoy an intricate plot with history, drama, and romance will enjoy this one. It just requires an investment. The Book of Blood and Shadow should have wide appeal to adult fans of historical fiction too. And, yes, it has a "Da Vinci Code" vibe, so if you liked that one, you should definitely check out The Book of Blood and Shadow.


Published by Knopf, April 10, 2012
eBook obtained from NetGalley
448 pages

Rating: 4/5





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