Author: Robin Wasserman
Published: January 16th 2012 (UK) April 12 2012 (US)
Source: **Review Copy from Little Brown Books Co**
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Summary:It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.
When the night began, Nora had two best friends and a boyfriend she adored. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands. Chris was dead. Adriane couldn’t speak. 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’s determined to follow the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. But Chris’s murder 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.
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS ★★★★☆
I have never read anything by Robin Wasserman before but after reading The Book of Blood and Shadow, I know that I definitely want to now. She has a brilliant way with words and really knows how to tell a story that keeps the reader captivated and hooked. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, I had been warned that it was a brilliant read but I hadn’t wanted to get my hopes up too high. Luck would have it that my fellow blogger, Lucy from Choose YA was right about this read and I did really enjoy reading it. It had me hooked from the very first sentence, right up until the last sentence and I was even left wanting more when it was finally over and done with.
This story definitely takes you on a journey, in more ways than one. There is the first story that is the interaction between the characters and how everyone gets along, how they are living their lives up until that point and how it all changes once the Book is introduced to them. Then their is the second story, the Book and the mystery that surrounds it, the past that is attached to it and the future it holds. Then there’s the third story, the now, the crime investigation, the unveiling of the mysterious book and the secrets it deems to hold. And finally there is the adventure, the travelling from place to place, the mysterious cults trying to stop Nora and her friends from unravelling the mystery of the Book. Confusing? It should have been but the way that Robin Wasserman writes allows that confusion to disappear, or rather, to never surface in the first place.
I thoroughly enjoyed Nora and the journey that she went on. My heart went out for her as I read about her family life and how the events of the past shaped her in the present and would continue to shape her throughout her future. I found that this really brought her character alive to me. She wasn’t just someone who was happy in her life who got caught up in something interesting. She was a person with a deep, dark scar that would never be properly healed but there was only one person who even knew it was there. She just wanted to get through her life and not think about the past, the what ifs or the what could have been’s. I loved this about her, I loved that she connected to Elizabeth through the letters but really I just loved how she would use the translations of the Latin as a way to centre her world. Yeah, she was a brilliant protagonist, strong, hard-headed and confused but determined.
I so wanted to see more of Chris. He was the second character in the story that I loved. From the first moment he was properly introduced to the reader, I fell for him. His goofy smile, the way he kept Nora’s secret and the way that he was just so lively and characteristic. He was the kind of the guy that you could actually believe existed in the world. And Nora was smitten with him. But, of course, they were only best friends for his girlfriend was Adriane, Nora’s other best friend. This subtle triangle was interesting to see, and while it was acknowledgeable to the reader that Nora loved Chris, it was almost as though she couldn’t see it herself, she didn’t quite understand her feelings and that helped to make this triangle bearable. I think, if Nora had openly known about her feelings it would have been harder to read, it’s not easy watching someone you love be with someone else, especially not your best friend.
That gets me on the line of Adriane, I despised her. I think, in some parts, you probably were supposed to but I just couldn’t get on board with her. I think, for me, she just seemed to fake for a lot of it. I can’t think that you would just be that okay with everything. And it infuriated me. I also didn’t like Max. Right from the start, I just didn’t like him. He was too shy, too innocent, too annoying. Then there was the actually annoying Eli who I wanted Nora to end up with. I loved how protective of her he seemed, how he was pushing her in the right direction, how he was trying to help her without saying things outright. Yeap, he was goodness that I particularly enjoyed reading.
I enjoyed the way that this story played out. The way the mystery unravelled bit by bit and how it was sorted through. I liked that it was interesting and it really painted an interesting world to read about. I loved the descriptions of Prague and all of the buildings and streets there. I’ve never been myself so I don’t know how realistic they were but they were definitely beautifully pictured in my mind due to her words! I also loved where it ended, how it ended, it was so interesting to read about and I found it to just be amazingly written. The book itself was based off of real information and I really liked how Robin Wasserman took that information and sculpted a fictional story around it.
The few things I didn’t like included the way that sometimes it got a little monotonous. I found my attention spanning slightly as I read Elizabeth’s letters, but I feel that this was more to do with the old style language it was written in more than anything. I found that I wasn’t able to truly understand what was being said throughout the entire letter until it was semi explained by Nora’s narration at the end. This irritated me slightly but didn’t stop the overall charm of the book. I also didn’t like the way Nora was around Max, the way she just forgot all about how much he annoyed her or how mad she was with him when they were together again. I found myself wanting to scream at her to see what was going on under her eyes. I think though, despite my annoyance at this, it was probably a, unfortunately, realistic depiction of someone in that sort of relationship. So, in a way, it worked and it certainly worked out towards the end of the novel but while I was reading in the middle, I just remember wanting her to see what was happening with Max the same way she was seeing the clues in the letters.
I would recommend this book to anyone. It has elements for everyone. Lots of character building, strong characters, interesting story and plot, mystery and crime that needs to be solved and just emotions being thrown at you from left, right, and centre. I found myself close to tears quite a few times throughout this book and I loved that about it. It wasn’t too slow, nor was it too fast. It wasn’t too confusing and it always explained everything that seemed like it got to be too much. A perfect balance, and one that I just really liked and would love for others to go and read a copy themselves!
Feel free to read Lucy’s review, here.
** I received this book in return for an honest review from Atom Books. Thank you Madeleine. **