Google+ Reading Teen: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman: Book & Audiobook Review

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman: Book & Audiobook Review

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)
Audiobook Publisher Listening Library
Narrated by Emily Janice Card
Buy the Book: Amazon
Buy the Audio: Audible, CDs
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.
At a Glance:

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 Audiobook:

Yes, yes, yes.  If you're looking for a new audiobook, or you're debating between audio and hardcover, I'm going to just put my vote in for the audio.  Why?  Well, first of all, the reader is fantastic.  She does an amazing job with voices, accents, and languages.  She reads things in Latin, in Czech and of course English! :D  I was seriously impressed.  But the biggest reason that I would choose listening to this over reading it, is because of all the words that I didn't have to figure out or pronounce!  There was a ton of Latin in this book, and Emily Card just rattles it off as if it's her second language.  If I had been reading it, I would have stared at all those words and phrases, then ended up just skipping over them or mispronouncing them, so listening to the audio was perfect!  If you'd like to hear a sample, you can check that out here.

"I should probably start with the blood..."

Yeah, 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.

Historical Fantasy/Contemp Mystery:

Yeah, I'm a fan.  Who knew?  Blood and Shadow was a mix of historical fantasy and contemporary mystery.  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.

Characters, Friendships, Love and Lies

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!

A YA Da Vinci Code?

Yeah, 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.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

Book Doppelganger:

The Da Vinci Code
  • Profanity:  Moderate
  • Sexual Content:  Moderate
  • Violence:  Heavy
  • Other Notables:  Underage Drinking
For more details, check out The Book of Blood and Shadow on


  1. I think you're right that this would appeal more to a college level. It doesn't have the same fast pace as a regular YA novel and there is a lot of history mixed in with the mystery. That being said it is really well written and I love the narrator actually spoke in Latin and Czech. Even though I've already read the print version that kind of makes me want to pick up the audio.

    1. Great! You should! Then you can see if you pronounced all the words correctly! lol

  2. I agree with your assessment -- here's a quote from my review"

    "The book is long, detailed, and included a complex vocabulary so it's not for the average teen reader. But those that enjoy an intricate plot with history, drama, and romance will enjoy this one. It just requires an investment. The Book of Blood and Shadow should have wide appeal to adult fans of historical fiction too."

    I enjoyed this one a lot, though.

    1. Great minds!! Yeah, this is one that will definitely stick with me!

  3. I LOVED this! SO different from anything I had read b4! Thx 4 the heads up on the audiobook. I will definitely order it for my high school LMC then.

    1. Awesome! I hope your students enjoy it!

  4. I liked the sprinkling of academia. Yeats --Eliot and the mystery of an ancient rare book. So the murder mystery and great characterization was icing on the cake.


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