Review Blog

Jan 25 2012

Book of blood and shadow by Robin Wasserman

cover image

Atom, 2012. ISBN 9871907411441.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. With her thriller in the genre of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Wasserman takes the reader on a roller coaster ride with Nora after she finds her best friend Chris murdered,  his girlfriend Adriane in a catatonic state and her beloved Max not to be found. Nora believes that Max is innocent of the murder and is determined to find him. Following clues found in ancient letters, she sets out on a trail of blood and adventure with the enigmatic Eli closely following her.
This is a hefty read at 432 pages and is littered with letters and poetry written in Latin, which had to be translated by Nora, allusions to historical figures in the Renaissance like Kepler, a German astronomer, and codes and ciphers that needed to be worked out. It is not a book that I could read in one sitting, rather it is one that I had to ponder about before the mysteries and characters called me back to continue reading the next section.
A complex trail of letters and poetry brings to life Elizabeth Jane Weston and her life in Prague, in a time when astronomers and scientists believed in alchemy and where she laboured to bring to life the Lumen Deii, a strange machine that would connect man with God. As Nora translates her letters, she becomes increasingly entwined in what happened to Elizabeth and it is this connection that keeps the reader involved in the complicated plot.
The relationships in the book are also engrossing. I enjoyed reading about teenagers who are highly intelligent and capable of being research assistants to a History professor. Although Nora is naive about the relationships in her life, she is loyal to her friends even when she is not sure whom she can trust. She is the one who cracks the codes and finds the clues and directs the search for Max. It is a relief to read a book where the love interest is not the most important aspect but rather fits in with the action and needs of the characters.
There is also action galore in this book, as Nora travels to Prague where she and her companions become the target of religious sects who are determined to gain hold of the Lumen Dei.
Wasserman very skilfully weaves the action, relationships and a fabulous setting to make a wonderful thriller.
Pat Pledger

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