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

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman is a thrilling young adult book. Nora has felt like a shadow in her own home since her older brother died. Changing schools and making a few close friends has helped her feel alive again, but everything takes a sinister turn. Her best friend Chris and his roommate Max work with Nora assisting an eccentric professor translating pages that might lead to a devise that people would, and have, murder to obtain. Soon romance blooms and things are looking up for Nora. Then one night everything is lost in blood and shadows. Nora arrives late to a night with her friends she discovers Chris dead, his girlfriend (and Nora's friend) Adriane in shock, and Max suspected of the crime. Nora is determined to follow the clues in the works they were translating and find the truth about Chris's death. Nora, Adriane, and Chris's cousin go to Prague in search of answers, and find themselves surrounded by danger and conspiracy.

The Book of Blood and Shadow starts off slow, but with a great set up and some back story to help understand the main characters and how they relate to each other. I think a little too much time might have been spent with this set up, but if you stick with the book you will understand character motivation and subtext in their relationships very well because of this effort. The mystery and action are well done, and the intricate workings of translating latin and breaking the codes within translations had this latin geek entranced on several occasions. I will admit that several 'twists' of the story held little to no surprise to me, but getting there are watching the revelations happen was still worth the read. I also need to admit that there were several occasions where I wanted to kick or yell at Nora, either because of her attitude or blind faith. Adriane also irritated me on a few occasions, but I expect that she was supposed to. However, most of the time I had some sympathy for the friends trying to save their friends, their lives, and their future. There is betrayal, romance, friendship, and religious mysteries tangle up to create an intriguing tale.

I recommend The Book of Blood and Shadow to readers that enjoy mystery and suspense. Friendship, faith, and hop are all themes that wind their way through the story, and bring the suspense home. Some have compared this book to The Da Vinci Code, and on several levels that is a valid comparison. If you have no patience for the build up or flash backs, or dense writing with some very long sentences, then I do suggest that you might want to skip this book. I enjoyed the read and know of several people I am going to recommend read it as well.
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