Thursday, 26 April 2012

Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10th April 2012
Source: NetGalley
My rating: 4 stars

“Better to be slain by an arrow than
by the words of the one I most trusted”

When I received a galley for The Book of Blood and Shadow I was quite pumped as there had been some great reviews for it. But I was also quite worried as I only received the galley a few days prior to its publication date; I’m not the fastest reader and I had not been having much luck lately with books, a lot I found a struggle to get into or ended up being disappointments. But I’d hoped this would not be the case with The Book of Blood and Shadow.

Nora, Chris and Max had volunteered to be research assistants to the former talented and respected professor Hoff to translate and decipher the codes within the 700 year old copy of the Voynich book and letters written in Latin left by Elizabeth Weston. For years many had tried to decipher the code, but had failed to do so. So three evenings a week Nora, Chris and Max at Hoff’s office tried to make sense of the book which so far has outwitted everyone. After spending a fair amount of time with Elizabeth's letters, Nora seemed to be making a huge amount of progress, what initially had started off as a means of escape from the silence that filled her house, her broken parents with their forlorn expressions, Nora found herself wanting to spend every opportunity she got with the letters. She seemed to be getting a better understanding of just who Elizabeth was, what her life back then was like, her connection with her became stronger and she felt protective of a woman who has been dead for over 400 years and her letters. When Nora thinks she’s getting closer to unravelling the mystery of the Voynich manuscripts, things suddenly go downhill with unsuspected attacks and the letters and transcriptions of the book going missing. It seems like somebody else is in a hurry to decipher the code too, someone with no care about who gets hurt in the process. Nora is forced to make a decision; does she want to solve the mystery for Elizabeth? Continue down a dark and dangerous path, who knows where it may lead her? Or try and forget the last couple of days of hell and everything about it like it never happened?

The Book of Blood and Shadow I found extremely difficult to get into, I remember sitting there with a bewildered expression thinking what is going on? At times I seriously felt like giving up. I probably would have had it not been for Giselle at Xpresso Reads who told me the pace picks up after a 100 pages or so. So I stuck it out and I’m glad I did because the pace picked up to a whole another level. I found myself gripping my kindle in terror until the early hours of the morning. I wanted to know what was going to happen but at the same time I was so afraid to read anymore just in case it caused my heart to rip into further tiny shreds.

Nora was a character I felt an immediate pull towards, you would think that with all the heartache she’d been through and everything life had thrown her way, she would be fragile, curled up in a corner and given up on life. But I truly admire her for the amount of heart she put into her research, her gusto and fierceness she displayed as the book progressed. Her character development was admirable. This book couldn’t have been the same without Adriane (Nora’s best friend) Max, Chris and Eli (Chris’s cousin). Rarely ever do I come across a book where all the characters have a massive impact on me, (I think the last time this happened was with Courtney Summers This is Not a Test). They all in their unique ways managed to wheedle their way into my heart and left an unforgettable imprint in their wake.

What I loved most about The Book of Blood and Shadow was the mystery about everything; you thought you had a grasp on reality; the clues and letters were slowly bringing you closer to providing answers to all the unanswered questions. But then when you least expect it, you’re thrown something so unexpected, so out of the blue, I literally felt like a lifeless ragdoll thrown about after finishing this book.

This book has also left me this huge urge to learn as many languages as possible. If someone was to ask me how many languages I could speak, my lame response would be two; (English and Punjabi). I think I may have to make it my priority to learn some Czech, so if someone asked me a question I could just give a response back in rapid fire Czech! And also to visit Prague one day, the descriptions in this book were so beautiful and enticing and I’d never really given it any thought, but this book made Prague sound to be such an enchanting place that I’d be a total nutter if I didn’t go! 

It’s been a long time coming since I felt this pumped and excited about reading a book, so thank you
Robin Wasserman for creating this epic masterpiece!

I highly recommend if you haven’t read this book yet, that you do so as soon as possible.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for giving me this amazing opportunity chance to read this book.

Favourite quote:
“He was a freshman at some small school in
Maryland, he knew three languages and counting
he had whimsical taste in boxer shorts and...
and that was about it”


  1. Good to know about the first 100 pages Jasprit! Normally if something hasn't grabbed me by then I lose interest, so now I know to just keep reading:) I love books that take me by surprise and toss all sorts of unexpected things my way, so I'm looking forward to reading this one! Lovely review:)

  2. I wavered on this. Sam at Realm of Fiction liked it well enough but in the end I had too many NG requests so I passed. Sounds like I need to give this another look. Despite the slow beginning it sounds awesome. I want to know what kept you up all night in terror. I have Summers books on my next week's reading schedule. I didn't know this took place in Prague. After reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone I was in love with Prague. If you have not yet read DOSAB do it. One of my new favorites!

  3. For some reason, even though I've been seeing this book all over the place and want to read it like crazy, I never noticed that the cover girl had a castle in her eye before -- that's so cool! x)

    And this was an amazing and thorough review, J! My mom's boyfriend is from Prague so I love how this book is set in that city! (Maybe if I tell him, he'll want to read it too? Haha jokes, he doesn't read...) Now I'll be preparing to hand my heart over to Nora too as I wait not-so-patiently for a chance to get this book in my hands! ;) <3

  4. The girl has a castle in her eye?! I have never spotted that before! :D

    Lovely review, Jasprit. I'm really glad you stuck to this and ended up enjoying it so much. I actually loved the start of this book even though it was a little confusing. :P

  5. Great review, Jasprit! I have had this on my shelf for months but still haven't read it despite all the good reviews I've read! I like that Nora is an admirable main character and all the mystery sounds intriguing too!

  6. Ooh, I just got this book and wondered if I should read. I think I'll give it a chance after all. :) I love that you want to learn Czech, Jasprit! If you go to Prague, I demand pictures.


  7. I actually love it when a book starts slowly and then picks up after a while. For whatever reason, I always appreciate those books more later on. I got my copy a while back, but I've been buried in so many review copies that I simply haven't gotten around to it yet. But I will.
    Wonderful review, as always, Jasprit. And btw, I do hope you're enjoying Code Name Verity.

  8. I've never noticed the castle in the eye on the cover! That's pretty neat. This one really had me going after I finished, as you know Jasprit from my long ranting email!! Haha! So glad you liked it too. That quote you used at the beginning fits this books so well. Brilliant review, Jasprit. :)

  9. This is a truly amazing review! I always love books with surprising mysteries so I'm sure going to try it. this is actually the first time i heard of this book. It sounds wonderful! I love all the rhetorical questions you used!
    I love how you began and ended your review with fantastic quotes!
    New follower :)

    1. Thanks Rachel! I really hope you enjoy this book once you pick it up! :)

  10. Wow, love the cover to this book and look at her eye! So glad you enjoyed it. Donna xoxo

  11. Hmmm...I think I will still read this, but it's too bad that it didn't live up to your expectations. Now I'm really interested to read it.

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