The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Pages: 432, Hardcover

Summary from Goodreads:
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.

I am going to try and keep this review short and sweet. Primarily because I don't want to put my foot in my mouth. The audiobook is NOT the way to go - definitely read this book if you are interested. There are too many details to pick up through listening and I know I missed some and that ultimately hurt my reading experience. I still enjoyed the book, but who knows how different my rating/experience would have been might I have read it instead.

What I liked -
1. Elizabeth Westin's Letters. A central element to this story are the letters written by Elizabeth Westin to her brother in 16th century Prague. Nora has been asked to translate these from Latin and they ultimately lead her in her search for the Lumen Dei. I really enjoyed Elizabeth's voice throughout the story. When author's incorporate pieces of the past I latch on to them and Elizabeth was no exception. I also thought it was nice that the clues were revealed through letters rather than a National Treasure/Da Vinci Code kind of search.

2. The integration of Latin. This was probably one of the few benefits of listening to the audiobook. I'm sure if I was reading this book and saw Latin on the pages, I would either completely butcher the words while reading them in my head, or completely skip over the passage entirely to get back to the English (because surprise readers! I can't speak Latin). Well... the narrator of the audiobook read the Latin and who am I to know any better than to assume it is authentic. Regardless, it felt authentic and really brought Elizabeth and her letter's to life for me. I really appreciate when author's enhance their story with elements such as this.

2. Nora Kane. Nora was a great lead character. She was practical and level-headed, smart and (relatively) perceptive. I liked her and thought she made this book work. Nothing would have bothered me more if the lead character was easily susceptible to influence and selfish which has been done FAR TOO OFTEN.

3. Eli and Nora play-acting to get access to a library. Seriously this may be my favorite part - it was hilarious. Nora and Eli stage a fight as a married couple to overwhelm a monk into letting them into a library to see old Kepler texts.

"'Maybe if there is someone we can talk to about this,' Eli said. 'Your boss, perhaps?'"
"I snickered. 'God's probably busy, sweetie.'"

"'You are alarmingly good at acting the bitch.' Eli whispered. 'It suggests practice.'" 

"'And you are alarmingly good at acting whipped.' I shot back. 'Food for thought.'"

4. The Ending. Seriously like the last I don't know... 15-20% of this book was one shocking moment after another. Some plot twists were predictable, others were less so, but it is definitely an action packed finale. And everything wrapped up nicely - loose ends, casual mentions, questions - you name it.

What I didn't like - 
1. The pace. The pace was all over the place for me BUT this could have been a result of listening to the audiobook.  I was really into the first quarter of the book when the story was building up, but then lost a little bit of interest until just before the story shifted over to Prague. From then on it was a bit up and down for me until the ending (which was all up).

2. The setting (or lack thereof). HEAR ME OUT. I just mean that more focus was put on other elements of the story than the setting. When I think of a great setting, Libba Bray comes to mind because she is the master of transporting you to another time and place. But in The Book of Blood and Shadow I didn't really feel like I was in Prague and I would have liked to to see more description to make me really feel it.

Is this book for you?
If you like historical fiction, a good adventure-mystery that involves deciphering clues, AND (most-importantly) and author that doesn't sacrifice detail for pace or length, then you will probably enjoy this book. 

So much for keeping this review short. 



  1. I read this book last year and I really enjoyed it. It was actually one of my favorites. I don't think I would have been able to listen to it though, because I would have gotten confused. If I do an audio book I usually do like a chick lit book or something light.

    I loved the ending with all the twists and turns and I agree with you that some were predictable, but it still kept me on my toes. I never really thought about the setting too closely, but you are right, the author could have done more with it.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it! I've heard some mixed reviews on this book.

    1. Yeah I really think listening to the audiobook affected my opinion of this book somewhat because I usually love books like these and could tell this one was well done. I should be pickier in my selection of what I listen to on audiobook but audiobooks make up such a large portion of the reading I get done and the selection of what is available to me is much smaller, so when I find a book in audio I usually opt to read it that way :/.

  2. I always enjoy historical fiction, so that is a plus point for me. I always love a wrapped-up ending. The letters sound like fun! I have this book on the shelve for this month and I hope the pace is better if you read it. Great review :)


    1. I think you'll enjoy this one Mel! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  3. I have this one and I really really wanna read it! I think that it sounds really cool, but I'm glad that I have the book and not the audio now!

  4. oh my! how did I miss this one? holy cow, this one is definitely for me, so I'm putting it on my "must read" list! Thank you for sharing your review! Bravo!

  5. I really loved this one. Was a little slow to begin with, but I couldn't put it down. Loved the letters especially.

    grace of Skagway Alaska

  6. Books like this one completely capture my attention. And after reading the authors newest, The Waking Dark, this book has been scooted a good ways up the TBR. It is disappointing that you were disappointed in it, but I am seriously hoping that it was all the audiobook's fault! Thank you for your review!


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