The Book of Blood and Shadow

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The Book of Blood and Shadow
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
April 10, 2012
ISBN
978-0375868764
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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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Wowza Tale
(Updated: April 16, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I first found out about this novel in Justine magazine and knew I had to read it. I wasn't disappointed! There's so much to love about this book which starts with this sentence:

I should probably start with the blood.

That sentence grabs you and takes you on one amazing ride through a story that is part Revolution, another part Da Vinci Code. But let me tell you, I read The Da Vinci Code and The Book of Blood and Shadows is written much better.

While translating the 16th century letters of a woman, sixteen-year-old Nora Kane is thrown into a world of mystery, murder, and secret societies. The whole conspiracy theory of an ancient device, Lumen Dei, that is rumored to let someone actually communicate with God, is intriguing. What really makes this story though has to be the letters and how they closely end up intertwining with modern day Nora.

Where do I even begin on what I loved about this story? First, it's beautifully written with characters I cared about. Nora is brilliant but also kind of a social outcast. Chris, Adriane, and Max are her best friends with secrets of their own. I love how Wasserman weaves in Nora's world without it being a backstory dump. The rhythm sets you up for what the reader knows will happen later on.

This historical/religious thriller also isn't afraid to question. I love that. After I read this story I had to discuss with others how far would you go to find out if a theory, in this case, a religious device, was true or not.

The lush settings include a brief time in Paris add to the story too.

At the end of the book is a link to the author's website where you can find out more about the people behind the characters and the truth behind the story. Yes, I went and read up more.

This story brings YA novels up to a whole new level. Intelligent, lush, and nothing short than amazing, I highly recommend it.
Good Points
1. Amazing tale
2. Revolution meets Da Vinci code
3. Beautifully written
4. Love how author was able to intertwine the lives of Nora with 16th century Elizabeth through letters
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User reviews

5 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot 
 
4.6  (5)
Characters 
 
4.2  (5)
Writing Style 
 
4.8  (5)
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The Book of Blood and Shadow
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
The Book of Blood and Shadow blurb was a bit deceiving, I thought it was set in a different time (silly me), and that the main character (Nora) would be in the thick of things, with 'secret societies' and shadowy conspirators', but those things appeared right at the end, and the part leading up to the end was slightly boring and predictable. This book was kinda let down for me, it took me forever to read, and it was a painful journey that I took to do so.

The characters:

Nora-I loved how she connected with Elizabeth, when everyone else thought that her letters were a waste of time. This gave Nora a certain quality I liked that you don't find in most books. I thought she was a bit thick headed, and she refused to see what was in plain sight, that Max was a compete idiot and on the opposite side. I knew it immediately when he ran away.

Adriane-She seemed such a lovely character at the start, but as the book wore on, and her mind went in a weird direction, I started to dislike her. She was a bit snotty and arrogant, and she kept repelling Nora's attempts to be friends, so they went into some really weird relationship.

Max-He seemed alright at the start, but the further I read, and you could see he wasn't a very nice person, snapping back at Nora, and bossing her around. He was so obvious that he was using her, both as a girlfriend and for the Lumen Dei. I didn't like Max at all.

Eli-I thought that he was the best out of the characters. He stuck by Nora even if he didn't have to, even if it was he mission, it felt like he was doing it out of the goodness of his heart. I thought his personality was the best by far.

I liked the whole letter thing, with the clues hidden in coded Latin, and stuff like that. That would of been even better if they didn't figure out the clues so quickly, they got them the instant they translated it into English. It was way to easy for the characters.

The Book of Blood and Shadow was definitely not for me, but it might be different for other people, as you can obviously see from the other people's reviews.
Good Points
-I loved the letters from Elizabeth, and how Nora knew from the beginning that the letters were important. I really enjoyed that part of the book, but I thought the characters got the clues way too easily.
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The Book of Blood and Shadow (A Room with Books review)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
The Book of Blood and Shadow is one seriously crazy, twisty adventure. There were so many plot twists you’d think it’d be hard to keep up, but the story actually flowed in a fantastic way.

This is a whopper of a book, so let’s break it down:
Characters:
Nora – Flawed, but in a good, believable way. This girl has dealt with some serious tragedy in her life, so I don’t blame her for being pessimistic. She was also headstrong and stubborn; unwilling to let anyone do anything for her. The fact that she was unwilling to ask for help may seem stupid, but I actually admired that in her.

Max – I felt kind of on the fence about him most of the time. I could see why Nora liked him and how she reasoned away his moody side, but I can’t deal with moody and I don’t appreciate guys snapping at their girlfriends just because they “get that way.” I didn’t hate him, but I also didn’t really like him.

Adriane – Sometimes I liked her and sometimes she just seemed so damn full of herself. Plus, her and Nora had kind of a strange relationship.

Just because I complained about the characters doesn’t mean they weren’t great in the story :]

Story:
This is one crazy storyline, guys. Just when you think you’ve figured it out BAM there’s another twist you never saw coming (or, at least, I didn’t see coming). I kind of like that the story starts about by telling you Chris is dead and then backtracks and gives you a little of what happened before Chris was murdered. The backtrack made it possible to get to know Chris and a little of why he died without it having to just be info-dump or telling instead of showing.

I loved the story. I loved everything from Latin translations (although, I could’ve done without Latin/Czech/whatever that wasn’t translated throughout the book) to the idea of this crazy machine hidden away in Prague that does who know what. Everything was mysterious enough to keep me going but Wassernan also provided enough answers I didn’t want to pull my hair out from all the not knowing.

My one complaint is all the religion talk. It probably won’t bother most people since it’s not the preachy kind. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Norah doesn’t believe in any type of religion so since they’re searching for some religious artifact, you can imagine how often she’s preaching her non-belief. (I know I said it wasn’t preachy, but it isn’t what people normally think of as preachy.) I completely understand why the questioning was important to Norah’s character, but I just wish it wasn’t so “God could not exist and whoever believes in him is kind of stupid” all the time.

The Nutshell: If you’re looking for a good cross-country mystery then The Book of Blood and Shadow is definitely your book. There’s so many plot-twists I can just short of guarantee (because I can’t guarantee anything :P) you’ll never be bored or figure out the story early on.

Direct Hit
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Super!
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
At 3% I was already in love with the "razor-sharp wit" of the characters. This is the kind of language and characters that I like and, when I find them, I just don't want to the book to end.

Amongst so many zombies and dystopian novel the Book of Blood and Shadow is a gulp of fresh air.

In search of a book and decoding an ancient manuscript, Nora's best friend is killed and her boyfriend disappeared. Like 'da Vinci Code' style Nora goes in search of her boyfriend following a trail of blood, codes, conspiracies and mysteries.

Wasserman used long sentences that remind me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s writing style
and she absolutely pulled it off.
Good Points
- Nora's love interest is not the hottest guy in the school.

- There is NOT love a first sight.

- The dialogue/language is very much "Buffy: the vampire slayer" style. I could imagine Cornelia and Xander playing out some of the characters in the book.
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Interesting and intricate
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I do not think I can express to you how good this book was. but I am going to try to.

Spellbinding, beautifully written and completely transporting is the way I would describe it.

I had read Robin Wasserman’s other books and I enjoyed them, but when I heard about her newest book The Book of Blood and Shadow I knew I had to pick it up.
I am the biggest fan of mysteries and this is an epic one that spans centuries and continents. It all begins with the book of blood and shadow and letters written by a girl named Elizabeth. Only Nora can see that Elizabeth’s letters may actually be important and eventually life-changing.

'I should probably start with the blood.' is the first line of this book. Are you kidding me? I was drawn in from the first page and brought along on this whirlwind of a journey through Prague and essentially through time.

Let me tell you, I never knew who to trust! Once, like Nora, I thought I knew what was going on something would happen that would throw me for a loop. And then that perception would get changed, it was so much fun.

I loved learning about Elizabeth and her story, learning what happened to her and how she got tangled up in all of this was so exciting. Even though we only got to see Elizabeth’s actions through the letters that Nora translates I really felt as if Elizabeth was another main character who was brought to life in such an interesting and different way.

Nora was awesome, I loved her drive and her yearning to find the truth. I also really appreciated that all of her friends helped figure things out. I hate when the main character is the only one who can figure things out. It is so unrealistic. But thankfully that was not the case.

PRAGUE! Prague was almost a character in of itself. It was so richly written that I felt like I was there, it also made me need to go there someday. Also secret societies.

The Book of Blood and Shadow was more than I ever could have imagined. It left me more than satisfied and hooked the entire time I was reading it. It is a must read!
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Incredibly Intricate and Intelligent
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Whoa! Talk about a hook! The Book of Blood and Shadowstarts off with a bang. From that first sentence, I definitely knew something creepy was going on and that I needed to know more about it. Let me tell you right now: the hook was not a trap. Every bit of this book is so good. Two five star reads in a row = I'm getting spoiled!

Robin Wasserman has managed to write an original YA story, by which I mean one that's not remotely like the standard YA book. Nora, for example, is not your standard YA heroine. She's not absurdly clutzy, but she is incredibly intelligent, as in a genius at Latin. Nor is Nora particularly attractive; she's kind of average looking. Her hair is mousy brown, her nose too large for her face and she doesn't wear makeup almost ever. In short, she looks like a lot of girls, rather than some super shiny-haired YA cover girl. This makes her so much easier to relate to.

Then there's her storybook love. Well, he's not your usual guy fare either. The perfect-ish guy is her best friend, Chris, who's dating her other best friend. Her boyfriend is Max, who she thought was creepy for quite a while after first meeting at him. Apparently, he stares a lot, perhaps to a Maureen Johnson-esque degree. Max wears glasses and is totally socially awkward, very much not your usual YA hero.

Actually, this book has a lot more in common with novels like The Rule of Four. Both focus on academic research of an old text about which very little is known. Where Caldwell and Thomason's book is solely historical fiction though, Wasserman has added a paranormal element. In some books, paranormal is overdone and melodramatic. Here it creates the perfect creepy, gothic atmosphere. For most of the book, you don't even know what the paranormal is; you just sense its presence lurking just off screen, creating serious suspense.

As Nora's story progresses, so does her research into the letters of Elizabeth, which could possibly provide insight into The Book her group is researching for Hoff (crotchety professor in search of glory). Although the individual letters are fairly short, I found myself getting just as sucked into Elizabeth's tale as into Nora's. In some historical fiction with this setup, the 'historical documents' are the weak point. Wasserman deftly avoids that trap with the grace of the dancing hippo from Fantasia.

The book is dark, unrelenting, soul-breakingly, fabulously, perfectly dark. Everything in Nora's life has pretty much already fallen apart, leaving her bruised, even before the book has begun. Well, things are just getting started for poor Nora. Her world gets shaken on its foundations. Robin Wasserman definitely goes on the list of awesome YA authors not afraid to do terrible things to their heroines/heroes. I love this, because, well, have you met life?

In undergrad, I was a theology minor, despite having been an agnostic all of my life, leaning much closer to the atheist side of things than the religious. The reason for my study of theology is that, simply put, I find belief fascinating, both on a global and individual scale. Certainly, it's interesting as a historian to look at how the religions themselves developed from a single person or group to a massive organized thing. Even more so, though, I love hearing the stories of individuals, of how they came to subscribe to their particular faith (or lack thereof). The theology in this book is wonderful, and, if you have any interest in that, I highly recommend this. Again, I think Wasserman was very daring to write this, and I applaud her for it. My favorite quote was one that pretty much sums up my opinions on the idea of God.

The story of The Book of Blood and Shadow is also incredibly intricate. I have so much respect for Robin Wasserman for having pulled off a book of this scope. She did so much research, both into Prague's history, into ancient languages, and into secret codes. To sum up this review into just a few words: Robin Wasserman is BRILLIANT, and so is her book. It's out now, so what the heck are you waiting for? GO GET IT!

This was my first foray into Robin Wasserman's books, although I have checked out Skinned from the library at least three times and then not had time to read it, but it will by no means be my last. In fact, I'm pretty sure Skinned is getting bumped up the TBR list.
Good Points
History
Drama
Not typical YA
No cheesy romance
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