Book Review: The Book of Blood And Shadow

The Book of Blood And Shadow
Published By: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Page Count: 448
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Fantasy, Mystery

I think the best way to describe how I felt about this is to start with what it reminds me of. It is like The Da Vinci Code immersed in a steampunk murder mystery... lots of clues to solve about a clockwork machine built in the past, hidden in the present, protected and sought after by mysterious cults - deaths all over the place and lots of chasing about! 

I was quite confused at the start, as there were a number of names to take on board quite quickly (Andy, Chris, Max, the Hoff, Nora, Adriane), but I stuck with it and gradually I came to understand what was going on. Nora, the main character, moves to a new school to try and escape the shadow that was created when her older brother, Andy, killed himself and another student in a drink driving accident. She makes friends with Chris and Adriane, and together with Max, all four start extra credit work for a eccentric professor - the Hoff - in translating historic letters and manuscripts which relate to a great alchemical invention, the Lumen Dei. Then two of them are attacked, leaving one catatonic and the other dead, and a chase across Europe begins for the truth; who killed their friend, why, and what does the Lumen Dei have to do with it all? 

It is really intricately crafted, and there is a lot of history woven into the pages of this book. I'm not quite sure why I didn't connect with it personally - I do think it is well written and I'm sure that many people will really enjoy this. Perhaps it was because Nora was just a little too quick to put her faith in people, perhaps I didn't identify with each character's motivation enough, or maybe it was just that I was quite annoyed when two characters abandoned a school trip to Paris to disappear off to Prague. (Personal teacher-related nightmare!) At any rate, disappear off to Prague they did, and the latter half of the story unfolds through its streets as clues are found, solved, and various scrapes with mad knife wielding monks occur. 

This is certainly very different from Robin Wasserman's other works, but I think this definitely has a wider appeal than the Wired trilogy did. 

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.


  1. Great review! I really can't wait to read this one, it sounds like my kind of read. Thank you for sharing! :)

    grace (Help Me Sleep Better)


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