young adult book reviews & more

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

It all started as a way to get out of class, a supervised independent study program where Nora, her best friend Chris, and his roommate Max would assist a professor in translating letters written in Latin. Chris and Max would translate the letters of Edward Kelley, an alchemist, while the letters written by his daughter, Elizabeth Weston, were relegated to Nora. Their project, to find any clues to help decode the Voynich manuscript, was not one that any of the friends took seriously—until it became too late. They found something, something more important than they could know—something that others will stop at nothing to learn. And that something has left Chris dead, his girlfriend Adriane catatonic, and Max inexplicably gone. Even though all the clues seem to point to Max’s guilt, Nora is convinced that he can’t be the one responsible, but her hunt to clear his name quickly turns into a dark and sinister journey toward the truth, a truth of which she has only began to scratch the surface with Elizabeth Weston’s translated letters. Before she knows it, she becomes caught up in a centuries-old struggle for and against the most ultimate power known to man: the Lumen Dei.

The Book of Blood and Shadow is reminiscent of a couple of similar adult novels I trudged through years ago, specifically The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Wasserman’s newest novel has all the long buried secrets, coded messages, historical searches that span continents, sinister organizations, and a quest for something of the utmost religious and scientific significance that these aforementioned books, especially the first, have in spades. And Wasserman pulls this off remarkably well. Despite a somewhat confusing beginning, I quickly found myself completely enthralled with this story and completely reluctant to set it aside, even for sleep. The plot has a neat balance of action sequences, peeks into history via translated notes and letters, as well as more internal struggles with grief and trust that make the entire story so suspenseful. Additionally, Wasserman transitions between these different sections very smoothly, which helps make the story as a whole feel more coherent. I was definitely wowed by this novel. Though The Book of Blood and Shadow is a little daunting in length, I urge readers to not let that detail deter them, because this book if definitely a worthy time investment.

The Book of Blood and Shadow appeals to both readers who did and did not like The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, as well as to fans of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury.

Rating: 4.75

Review copy from NetGalley

2 munch(es) :

fakesteph said...

I want to read this so bad. I'm glad you liked it! I'm putting it on my list so I can work it into my book budget (I'm suddenly resenting my budget... maybe I'll stop driving this week and order some books). Thanks for the review.

Leigh Purtill said...

Sounds terrific! I took issue with a lot of the Dan Brown books but there's no denying they are page-turners. I love when writers play around with history...."could it be? could this really have happened?"

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