The Book of Blood and Shadow

Posted January 3, 2013 by Tara in Review /// 14 Comments

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher/Year: Listening Library/Knopf, 2012
Length: 14 hrs and 17 mins
Series?: Standalone
Genre: YA thriller
Format: Audio book
Source: Purchased from Audible
[#70 in my 75 book challenge]

The title is true. This is a book about blood. And shadows. Nora is just a high school girl with an above-average love of translating Latin, two best friends, and an angsty boyfriend. When one friend ends up dead, the other catatonic, and her boyfriend is missing, Nora knows she’s not safe. There’s something in the Latin she’s be translating — something ancient, something dangerous — that someone wants. Nora’s questions lead her to Prague, where she follows a path of clues and learns of a secret society that will stop at nothing to get what they what.

Nothing is as it seems, and everyone has secrets. With all the Latin, history, and secret societies, this book feels like a YA DaVinci Code. And that’s okay! It’s been a long time since Dan Brown’s little novel had us all talking, so The Book of Blood and Shadows will feel new to teens. Of course, there’s a healthy dose of romance (though I didn’t really care for Max) and female friendship. But this action-adventure novel is fast-paced and un-put-downable — it’s not all hugs and rainbows. People DIE. A LOT.

If they don’t make this into a movie, they’re crazy. (whoever “they” are)

Perhaps the best part about Wasserman’s novel is her kick-ass protagonist. Nora is smart, but flawed, and stands on her own two feet by choice (not by circumstance). She has boyfriends, but she doesn’t depend on them. She also places as much value on her female friendship with Adrienne as she does on her romantic relationships. Nora and I could be buddies, and I find that to be a rare phenomenon. Though, if I were her friend I would probably end up very, very dead. So…I’d have to be careful. Girl power!

FINAL GRADE: A It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t care. I loved Nora and I loved the setting (Prague). Puzzle novels make my heart sing because, though totally unrealistic, they are so exciting!
Assigned Reading: If you hated The DaVinci Code, you’ll probably want to pass on this novel. You may also want to pass if you like The DaVinci Code too much, because you’ll be disappointed. But if you love Latin, Prague, history, puzzle novels, action, twists, or strong heroines, then you should definitely check out The Book of Blood and Shadow!
Recommendations: For library recommendations, I’d say definitely buy it for a high school or public library, but go ahead and skip it for the middle grades — it’s definitely a 14+ book, mostly for historical themes.

Have you ever been to Prague? Read the DaVinci Code? Read The Book of Blood and Shadow? Any combination of those? Leave your thoughts in the comments!


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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14 responses to “The Book of Blood and Shadow

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights on this book! I love reading books of this genre. I travelled to Prague late last year, so when you mentioned that it was set it Prague, a bell automatically rang in my head putting this book on top of my must-find reads. My head churns of images of Prague as I write this comment. 🙂 Before I get too carried away, thanks again for the great review! 🙂

  2. I have been very curious about this one! Thanks for the review. 🙂 One question….vampires involved in any way? I’m trying to stay out of the bloodsucker craze, so titles like “blood and shadow” make me leery….

  3. sounds like an excellent book! definitely going on my to-read pile.
    we’re supposed to be going on a trip to Prague for my art class… not sure whether i’ll actually be going though haha.

  4. Man, my high school Latin class never got me anywhere that interesting! Sounds like a good one. I’ll have to add it to the never ending TBR pile. 🙂

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