Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 10, 2012


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 is an amazingly intricate tale of mystery and lost span over 400 years. After losing her brother, Nora was not sure she would even feel happy again, until she gains admission to Chapman Prep. At Chapman, she meets Chris, the only one who knows the truth about her brother, and his soon to be girlfriend, Adriane. Nora feels comfort in her new life, that her home life and absent parents cannot provide. After Chris goes to college, just down the block, their group grows to four, with Chris roommate, Max.

Chris, Max, and, through a special independent study, Nora begin working on trying to translate the Voynich Manuscript, as so many people have before them. Nora is given the less important task of translating the letter of Elizabeth Weston, a seventeen-year-old girl, in 1598. In a turn of events, Nora begins to uncover the secrets of the Voynich Manuscript, which leads down a dangerous road. There are people who want the secrets, and who will do everything to get them. When Nora discovers her best friend, Chris, murdered in his home, and his girlfriend and her other best friend catatonic over his body. Nora does not know what to do, but when Matt, her boyfriend, is blamed for the murd4er, she knows it is up to her to do something.

The quest for answers takes Nora on a trek across the Atlantic to Elizabeth Weston’s home, Prague. There Nora has to find the answers she seeks, while hiding for the secret religious sects who want to either use her knowledge or kill her. Either way Nora is in a world of danger, without her friends by her side. Following in the footsteps of Elizabeth is the only way Nora is going to make it out alive. There is a lot more I want to discuss about this book, but I am trying to avoid spoilers.

The amount of research that the author, Robin Wasserman, did for this novel is outstanding. Elizabeth Weston is a real person and a poet, and so is the Voynich Manuscript, which scholars still attempt to this day to decode. While there are real people in this story, the work is completely fiction. The research and using actual historical people adds a level of realism to the story, and adds a bit of terror to the story. The details and stories in this book is incredible, I have a desire to visit Prague I never thought I would.

It took me longer than I expected to finish The Book of Blood and Shadow, because I savored every second and did not want to miss any details. There are so many subtle clues that are woven into the story causing twists and turns at every single corner. Every time I thought I understood where the story was going, it would change direction. It takes a lot nowadays for a book to hold my complete attention for that long, and I have to commend Robin Wasserman on writing a remarkable book that I never saw coming.
**Unabridged Bookshelf received this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review**


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another awesome review. And Wow! You really liked this. I have not read any of Robin's books YET!. Going to have to fix that:)

laura thomas

Unabridged Bookshelf said...

Thank you Laura, I really did love the book. If you get the chance to read it, I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

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