The Book of Blood and Shadow

The Book of Blood and Shadow - Robin Wasserman Guys this book. Really guys. This book wins all the awards for it’s title, first off. Then it went ahead and began with a quote from Dr. Faustus and The Tempest (and to show how much I love those plays, the man who can quote those two plays to me I’ll just marry on the spot, let’s be real here). It began with two quotes from those plays (and quoted Faustus again later on). If it hadn’t already won me over there, the beginning did for sure. I really like when books begin in media res even though it’s a spoiler right off, I like when books plunge you immediately into the action and then take the time to build up the rest of the story. This definitely did that. I have a lot of feelings about this book and it’s difficult to put them all down in words, I don’t even know. I read somewhere that this was a YA Da Vinci Code, but I’ve never read that book so I wouldn’t really know. This book was intense, and I loved it a lot, but I can also see how a lot of people would struggle with it. It just hit a lot of my favourite things so I guess there’s the grain of salt you take my review with, this book is not gonna be for everyone because of the pacing, the plot (which bordered on a bit convoluted every so often) and what was done with the romance of the novel. For me though, oh man I adore it and it was brilliant. Norah is a high school senior who, for extra credit, is spending her time in a dusty basement helping her best friend, Chris, and his roommate, Max, as they translate ancient letters for a crazy old professor. She spends her time translating letters from a young girl who is in the middle of her dead father’s legacy, the Lumen Dei - which was supposedly an ancient machine that would be a link to God and man - it would show man the mind of God. Things spiral wildly out of control, leaving her best friend dead, and her boyfriend accused of murder, thus sending her to Prague and the middle of an ancient war that’s been going on for the Lumen Dei for centuries. Norah is a Latin whizz due to her father being a Latin professor (I appreciate when the quirk the main character has actually has basis and reason behind it), she has emotional issues due to an accident that killed her brother, and she frequently feels like a third wheel with her best friends even though she doesn’t really let them know that. I just really loved a lot of what happened in this book. The basis of the book was basically parallel narratives with Norah and Elizabeth - the writer of the ancient letters - and I’m a sucker for parallel narratives. It deals a lot with betrayal and dealing with loss and death and it was just a lot of things that I love in a story. Was the plot a bit convoluted with the Lumen Dei and what not? Well, yes, but it actually ended up making sense in the end and being explained better than I thought it was going to be (when the writer pulls the ‘it’s alchemy’ card, it can get really sketchy. And this was actually reasoned out in a way that satisfied me). The only thing I had an issue with was the character Adrianne and what happened with her. I felt like she had little point in the story and I guess I just didn’t understand why the drama with her was totally necessary… It wasn’t enough to dampen my love of this book though. It really was excellent. It was dramatic and tense and it was just a really good story. It was intelligent and I loved the narration a lot. I loved the set up and it was a first person style that I really liked a lot. It’s one of those books that I just need to read again to catch up with all the things that the narration was doing even at the beginning of the book.