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.
The Book of Blood and Shadow absolutely BLEW. MY. MIND. Seriously. Want to know what happened as I read the last word on the last page?
I am not even sure where to start. How would I describe this book to you in six words or less? The Da Vinci Codefor Young Adults. Okay, that was seven, but who’s counting? There is a lot going on in this book: first love, secret codes, ciphers, foreign languages, murder, exotic travels, secret ancient societies, shocking betrayals, and most of all – pure, unadulterated mystery.
Many other readers complained that they couldn’t get into the book until around page 100, where, admittedly, the action really starts. I, however, was hooked from the first line:
I should probably start with the blood.
With a book like this, it understandably takes a bit of set-up before you get into the meat of the story. I quite enjoyed the slower build-up, because after page 100 and through to the very end, I was both lost and enlightened. The Book of Blood and Shadow made me think deeply about a lot of things and question even more. How well do we really know the people in our lives? Why do we tend to accept what we are taught as children at face value, with no desire to explore things further as adults? Why do bad things happen to good people? Does God exist? Now, The Book of Blood and Shadow does not necessarily attempt to answer these questions, but they certainly come to mind while reading this intricate, uniquely-crafted story.
The characters were all incredibly… flawed, I guess would be the word. Even though Nora, Max, and Adriane are largely present on almost every page, they were also very distant from the reader. I didn’t feel particularly attached to any of them, though I was curious about what would happen to them, if that makes sense. The only character I really loved was Eli. He was probably the most genuine of all the characters, and he surprised me in the end. (I love surprises!) Nora, who I would consider to be the main character, was intelligent, with a sarcastic wit that made me laugh out loud a few times. I also admired her bravery and loyalty. I doubt I could have done half the things she did.
The Book of Blood and Shadow is by no means a “light read”. It is thick, heavy, and sometimes depressing. At the same time, I was in constant awe of the lush descriptions, the attention to detail, the breathless anticipation of every page, and yes, even the winded writing style. This book is not for everyone, and yet, it is perfect for someone. I have a feeling this book will be one that I read every 5-10 years to see how much I have changed. This, to me, makes The Book of Blood and Shadow a 5-star read.
So, if you are a fan of books with exotic destinations, mystery and intrigue, romance and betrayals, and mind-bending plot twists, this book is sure to thrill and delight!
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Now, here’s where this review takes a different turn than most. Because this book introduced me to new things, I consulted Google quite a bit while I read. I thought I would give you a glimpse of my “Google Diary”, the idea of which came to me from Jessica@ BooksATrueStory. So, come on a journey with me through The Book of Blood and Shadow.
The Trojan Horse:
A big wooden Greek horse that the Greek army used to trick the Trojans into opening themselves up to a massive defeat. (Wiki link here.)
Francesco Petrarca, also known as the “Father of Humanism”. His sonnets were admired and imitated throughout Europe during the Renaissance and became a model for lyrical poetry. He is also known for being the first to develop the concept of the “Dark Ages” (Wiki link here.)
The Vltava River is the longest river in the Czech Republic. The river is crossed by 18 bridges (including the famous Charles Bridge) as it runs through Prague . (Wiki link here.)
None of these things were within the central focus of the book, but as I had not encountered them before, I Googled to learn more. I am so glad I did! I love the idea of the Trojan Horse, and Petrarch wrote some lovely sonnets. I would also love to visit Prague someday, though after reading The Book of Blood and Shadow, I may watch who is around me on the bridges!
Thanks for taking this mini-journey with me 🙂 I hope you learned something new and that you will give The Book of Blood and Shadow a chance!