Andrew's Reviews > The Book of Blood and Shadow

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
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's review
Oct 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: given-from-book-publishers
Read from November 10 to 20, 2011

Review Taken From The Pewter Wolf

Originally, I wasn't going to read this book. When I first heard of this book, it didn't push my buttons. It didn't get me excited. But then the UK publishers, Atom, asked if I would be involved in a blog tour for this book. I said yes, but knew that if I wanted to take part, I would have to read and review the book. I didn't want to agree to something and go "Read this!" if I haven't read it nor liked it. So, that's how I got my hands on a copy.

Anyway, the story. Nora Kane joins a translation project to unravel a 700 year old book along with other clasicists. So, imagine her outrage when she was given the "girly" task to translate the letters of the author's daughter, Elizabeth Weston. Expect, the more she translates Elizabeth's letters, the more Nora becomes fascinated with her life. And with her busy friend Chris dating Adriane and her budding relationship with Max, Nora has her life under control.

Until Nora finds Chris murdered. Until Nora discovers Adriabe has appeared to have lost her mind. Until Nora discovered Max has vanished into thin air, making him the Police prime suspect in Chris's murder.

But Max couldn't have done it. Could he? Slowly, Nora tries to make sense of what has happened and it seems that the reasons - and the answers - she seek are in Elizabeth Weston's letters...

Now, this book has been described as "The Secret History by Donna Tartt or The Lessons by Naomi Alderman meets The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown". So, already, there's a high standard. So, will it live to the hype that surrounds this book?

Yes, it does. I was surprised on how quickly I fell into this book and this strange world of Latin and universities and then, suddenly, how it switches to murder, Prague, secret societies and the Lumen Dei (you have to read the book to find out what that is). And it's also surprising how smart this book is. There were times I read this that I feared that the book would come across "too smart" and, I think, this only happened once or twice with me, but it was over very little things.

Don't get me wrong. This book is good! But it's flawed too. Some of you guys won't like it as it's slow going. It took over 100 pages (in my copy) for something to happen and it kinda does this all the way through the book until the end where everything falls into place. And there were several occasions that I felt that it went a bit flat. Sometimes it was characters, other times it was dialogue but it always picked itself up within a few paragraphs (I says this as my copy was a draft so this might be changed in the real version).

This is a very smart read, even when it goes into the realms of secret societies. I'm just fascinated on how much research the author, Robin Wasserman, did as (according to her Acknowledgements and Afterword) she talks about Elizabeth Weston, Edward Kelley, Don Giulio & Rabbi Judah Loew Ben Bezalel and the Voynich Manuscript and explains that they were real and briefly explains them to us.

While this book won't be everyone's cup of tea, but this is one smart read to start 2012 and I will be very intrigued over Robin Wasserman write next...

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Reading Progress

11/10/2011 page 51
11.0% "I can't decide if this book is being really clever or is being really weird... The last few pages hints towards to forma."
11/11/2011 page 70
16.0% "Nora & Max.... Sweet"
11/11/2011 page 83
19.0% "Where is this book taking me? And has Nora told us how Andy died...?"
11/13/2011 page 111
25.0% "Part 2.... Oh heck."
11/14/2011 page 135
30.0% "Now we're cooking..."
11/16/2011 page 167
37.0% "I really should stick to one book...."
11/17/2011 page 219
49.0% "Quick read while at Costa...."
11/17/2011 page 244
54.0% "Lost track of time...!"
11/18/2011 page 304
68.0% "I WILL finish before the @AtomBooks Meet Up on Wednesday! You just see if I don't!!!"
11/18/2011 page 320
71.0% "Max, you're acting like a jackass. Just saying."
11/18/2011 page 339
76.0% "What the hell is going on with Max & Adriane?"
11/18/2011 page 360
80.0% "Part 4. On the home-straight...? One hopes so."
11/18/2011 page 365
81.0% "Chapter 5 of part 4 is so short and yet screams volumes..."
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