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
I didn't know what to really expect from this book. I picked it up at the library, reading the synopsis a million times before I did. I'd heard so many good things about the book, but I don't really think the synopsis did it justice. The cover I thought was pretty interesting, not what you usually see on book covers. But finally, I did pick it up (sorry for going all media res on you all.) and decided it would be the first of my library book haul to read. And, boy was I glad it was the first book I read.
Nora . . . where do I begin with her? She certainly was a complex character. She was smart and nerdy, burdened with sadness and loneliness, and a complete wiz at decoding the ancient, enchanting, and dead language of Latin. She has a determined and logical personality and mind process that I really liked about her. Nora has to be the first character that I have ever read about that I could relate and connect to. She has this hidden strength about her that always stayed with her as an undercurrent right from the very start to the very last page.
The story was not as I expected it to be. First, they're all in the New England or somewhere around there, and the next thing I know--as they synopsis tells readers--they're in Prague. For some reason unknown to me, I didn't think that they would actually go to Prague. I have no clue why, and once the story began and Nora began to read these letters written by Elizabeth, I thought that Prague meant past where Elizabeth lived. Like, I thought that they would just be traveling through Prague in the letters. Don't ask me why. There is a lot of adventure in here, not as much as Divergent, but a lot, especially once the MCs went to the actual city of Prague. There's a slue worth of mysteries, lies, and secrets; practically everything I could ever want from a YA novel, and there's romance, too. *waggles eyebrows*
But back to the mysteries and such. Things would connect in my brain as the story went along. It was dark and creepy. There was death and cults and such that were after Nora and her friends. And I knew that Chris would die, but when it happened, I was all . . .
Because it was just all so creepy with a 500 year old curse practically coming back to life. Just imagine all the emotions running through my head! I began to like Chris's character, too, even though there wasn't much of him. He was the perfect guy in the sense of his personality. He was funny and charming and he had a kind heart. Nora cared for him, too, him being her best friend and all. I also asked myself, 'Did he have to die?' But since authors do what authors do and Robin Wasserman is really good at being an author, she broke the connection with him, and thus pulled at my heartstrings.
And one thing that I loved, loved, loved about this book was how historical it was. If you've read my review for Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, you know that I am a complete history junkie. And if you didn't know that, now you do. Like, seriously, this was an ancient, 500 year old mystery that hadn't been solved yet. People are willing to kill over the Lumen Dei because it has Special Powers. And now it's up to Nora and whomever she decides to trust to help her solve the it and find her missing boyfriend, Max.I could see where people weren't so thrilled with this book. Like A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, the story beings after all of the events have happened. So, it's just pretty much Nora telling the story to readers. I wasn't confused by it, but I could see where others may have been.
As being an obsessed blogger and all, I read other peoples' reviews of this to see what their opinions were, and one review really irked me, and I could see how this point also wouldn't exactly thrill readers. I, myself, am not a religious person, and neither is Nora. Other people who have read or will read this book may not be religious. Okay. But in this book, religion has a lot to do with the story. It's not like the MCs are praying to God 24/7 or wishing for His help, but in the letters written by Elizabeth, she was religious. Especially in the Medieval Ages and Renaissance era, where Christianity really took off--and where Elizabeth happened to have lived in. Religion and God were just a known fact back then. But here's my point: You can not have a talk about Medieval Europe/ the Renaissance and get into an accurate and believable mind of somebody that lived in that time period without--even briefly--touching upon religion. It's impossible.
In all, the blogger had said the novel was religious, but in all actuality it's historical.
I loved the writing style that Robin Wasserman had. It was poetic and beautiful. I didn't know I could moon all over just the words and sentence structure of a book, but I did. The Book of Blood and Shadow was wonderfully written with beautiful descriptions and imagery. It's not the best imagery I've read, but I felt I really got to see the streets of Prague through Nora's eyes. In The Daughter of Smoke and Bone written by Laini Taylor, the setting is Prague, Czech Republic, but there was more of the city in The Book of Blood and Shadow than there was in The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I thought.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I gave The Book of Shadow and Bone five out of five stars, and I hope that everybody will get a chance to read this book. It was like The da Vinci Code with a twist.