Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

The Book of Blood and Shadow
by Robin Wasserman

Publication: April 2012 from Random House
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

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.

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman was not what I was expecting – in a good way. I’m not quite sure what I had in mind, actually, but I do know that once I started reading I was hooked for good. I fully credit this to the brilliant way that Robin Wasserman begin the story. Starting with an intense scene and then flashbacking until you’re brought up to that scene was a definite way to get my attention. It’s like, oh look, murder – how did that happen?

Nora’s voice comes through loud and clear. Her emotions are front and center for the reader to experience, even when she’s not as forthcoming with them as she could be. And who can blame her? She’s had some tough stuff go down in her life, and the events in this take her through the wringer. It’s a sign of some good writing when you get attached to the characters and feel for them. Honestly, I think Nora handles herself amazingly. She’s caught up in this crazy search for an artifact that may or may not even exist, she has groups of people all wanting knowledge she doesn’t even know she possesses in the beginning and she has no idea who may be friend or foe. I had no idea who was friend or foe! You think you know one thing, and then BAM. Nope, sorry, it’s really this. Loved it, even if it drove me mental at times.

The Book of Blood and Shadow is this intense ride through murder, jealousy, hidden identities, Prague and secret religious orders – one intent on finding the machine rumoured to allow one to talk to God, and one trying to stop them. The writing is stark and straightforward, and conveyed the anxiousness of the characters really well. Despite the fact that I felt the pieces needed for the Lumen Dei were rather conveniently found in Prague, I have to remember that there were crazy factors to consider, like two secret societies and letters from a long-dad woman leading Nora on her quest. The letters from this woman, Elizabeth, were a nice touch to add in to the narration, if a bit long and many. It helped give a sense of time and place to the story, and how all-encompassing this search for the Lumen Dei has been.

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman is an eery and mysterious story that will definitely keep you awake reading long into the night.

e-ARC received through Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!