Release Date: April 10th 2012
Publisher: Random House
Buy It: Book Depository
While working on a project translating letters from sixteenth-century Prague, high school senior Nora Kane discovers her best friend murdered, with her boyfriend the apparent killer and is caught up in a dangerous web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all searching for a mysterious ancient device purported to allow direct communication with God.This book was weird because the first quarter was pretty much a contemporary tale of grief, which was well-written but not exactly a page turner, and given the blurb, I was definitely expecting more action and a little less emotion. About a hundred pages in, I got it, as The Book of Blood and Shadow took an adventure-packed twist into a YA DaVinci code, filled with mystery, history and the streets of Prague. It wasn't that I disliked the first quarter of the book, but in the context of the whole novel, it felt like an awfully slow beginning to an exciting story, and I wasn't quite sure that they belonged together.
One thing I particularly loved about the last three quarters of The Book of Blood and Shadow is the setting: Prague! It's amazing when an author brings to life a city, just like Stephanie Perkins did for Paris in Anna and The French Kiss only this time it's the seedy underbelly. Wasserman is also a really smart writer, she doesn't dumb down the language or the story for young adult readers, and it makes for an intelligent, heart-pounding and articulate book.
Some of the secondary characters felt a little one dimensional to me, in particular Chris and Adriane, which was a little surprising given the time spent introducing them. That said, as a narrator Nora was authentic and emotionally engaging. I also enjoyed the mystery and intrigue of Eli, as well as finding him a very attractive character, and loved how all the pieces fell into place once everything was revealed.
Despite its slow, but emotional, start The Book of Blood and Shadow was an intense and exciting adventure story, well-executed and filled with twists and turns. I haven't read any of Wasserman's previous novels, but she definitely caught my interest and I loved her intelligent storyline and smart writing. I will definitely be picking up more by her in the future.
Oh, and this might totally have been cheating, but my twin sister has an honours degree in Classics so I totally had her check the Latin at one point. I'm not sure what I expected, but just so you know, Wasserman got it right.