The Book of Blood and Shadow, by Robin Wasserman

Robin Wasserman's novel The Book of Blood and Shadow is ambitious in a way that few YA novels attempt. Everything from the somber cover art to the sheer heft of the book (a solid 432 pages) clearly indicates that this is a novel that wants to be taken seriously, despite its melodramatic tag line: "One Girl. One Night. Centuries of Secrets."

The teenage daughter of a Latin professor, Nora Kane gets roped into helping her best friend Chris, a college research assistant, translate a collection of letters relating to the 16th-century alchemist Edward Kelley. Nora finds the work surprisingly enjoyable—particularly after meeting Max, Chris's geeky-cute roommate and fellow researcher—until everything is suddenly torn apart: Chris is brutally murdered, Kelley's papers are stolen, and Max disappears. Determined to solve the mystery of Chris's death, Nora travels to Prague, but she has no idea how strongly certain people feel about a prophecy mentioned in a four-hundred-year-old manuscript...

I enjoyed The Book of Blood and Shadow, although I found myself more engaged by the plot than the characters. Nora's most compelling relationship is her genuinely sweet “like at first sight” friendship with Chris. His death is a turning point for the story, and the subsequent explosion of action scenes and elaborate plot development didn't leave much room for in-depth characterization. Happily, Wasserman blends fantasy and history with a deft hand, and the final result is a fast-paced, enjoyably convoluted novel sure to appeal to suspense fans of all ages.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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