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Content Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

The Book of Blood and Shadow
by Robin Wasserman
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 10, 2012)
Buy the Book: Amazon
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.

  • Profanity:  Moderate
  • Sexual Content:  Moderate
  • Violence:  Heavy
  • Other Notables:  Underage Drinking
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Although the pacing was sometimes slow, I found the Book of Blood and Shadow to be intense, exciting, and intriguing.  It is full of history, loaded with betrayal, and sprinkled with romance and friendship.  I have never read a book like this!

The Book of Blood and Shadow definitely had it's fair share of bloodiness, as you can imagine, but it wasn't nearly as bloody as I thought it might be.  That's how this story begins, though, with the blood, which immediately had me fascinated.  I love a good mystery, and this book was full of them.  Mysteries, lies, murders and surprises at every turn.  Although I had my theories, I ended up suspicious of just about everyone at one time or another!  I love it when there are clues to the answer, but not such obvious ones that the hero/heroine looks like an idiot for not seeing them. 

Now, I'm going to admit, I don't like a lot of detail when I'm reading.  And this book had a lot of background information, details about scenery, and many internal ponderings that did slow things down quite a bit.  In the middle of the book, I actually considered putting it down because it was just not moving fast enough for me.  BUT, I pushed myself over that hump, and I'm SO glad I did.  This story got seriously intense, and completely fascinating!  I love how much it was based on historical facts, but then completely re-imagined with this entire secret society of people.  I was blown away.

I love the way these relationships were set up.  The friendships and romances in this book were so original.  There were layers and layers of complications.  Just when you thought things were going to move in one direction, they would go a completely different way.  It was almost like reading multiple books in one.   I wasn't necessarily a fan of all the characters, or love interests, but they were definitely well-written and complex.  Whether I wanted to slap them or kiss them, they all evoked pretty strong feelings from me!

This book reminded me a lot of the Da Vinci Code.  With the rich writing, the historical detail, the old religion, and of course, the Latin!  There were mysterious old documents and writings, strange religious cults, and the fascinating, yet creepy setting of Prague.  But about that YA part.....I'm not so sure.  I really enjoyed reading it, but I can't imagine my daughter (Kit (17)) reading it.  It was just too much (too much detail, too much history, too many slow parts).  I do think that some teens will enjoy it; those deeper thinkers who love excellent, detailed writing and historical fiction.  But others, I'm afraid, will just find it too slow for them.  I think this one might appeal more to college age and above.