What’s this? I blogged twice in a week? IS THE WORLD ENDING??
Well. It’s no secret that I’m always reading, yet for some reason, I’ve never done a proper book review here before. I’ve always meant to, but I’ve never gotten around to it. But at the moment, I’m tired of assembling wedding invitations and I need to tell you all about this book that I finished about an hour ago that I just loved to bits.
It’s called The Book of Blood and Shadow, and it’s by Robin Wasserman. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
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 couldn’t put this book down.
I mean … the first lines alone are just so gripping:
‘I should probably start with the blood.
If it bleeds it leads and all that, right? It’s all anyone ever wants to know about, anyway. What did it look like? What did it feel like? Why was it all over my hands?’
RIGHT? RIGHT? Don’t you just want to pick it up right now and see WHO’S BLOOD IT IS and WHY SHE NEEDS TO START THERE and WHAT IS GOING ON.
Right off the bat, MYSTERIOUS BLOOD aside, it appealed most strongly to the rare-books nerd inside of me. Of course I’ve heard of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript, which has thwarted even the most talented codebreakers, and the idea that it is at the center of a centuries-long, worldwide conflict between two secret societies made for an interesting premise. Robin Wasserman did an excellent job weaving together history and fiction to create a beautiful and often heart-pounding story that left me wanting more. I could feel Nora’s initial enthusiasm that gave way to a grim determination as she handled the letters that lead her on a dangerous and deadly journey from her sleepy New England town to the twisting streets of Prague. I really, really liked Nora – even though she could be frustratingly stubborn at times, she did what she had to do. She’s also unapologetically smart, which I just love.
This book is simply fun. In my opinion, it has a similar feel to Dan Brown’s novels.It also reminds me – and this may be a strange comparison – of some of Clive Cussler’s novels, if Dirk Pitt was a seventeen year old girl with a talent for getting into trouble. Not that Nora is anything like Dirk Pitt – far from it. And it’s on a much smaller scale, of course. I think it’s the connection between past and present, the way that the motivations of long-dead actors have a definitive impact on current events, the way that things set in motions centuries past come to play out in a way that could have devastating effect. Is it slightly far-fetched at times? Yes. Of course it is. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t enjoyable. I honestly couldn’t put it down.
And isn’t the paperback cover – the second image, with the moody blues and greens and purples – just lovely? I like the other cover too, of course, but the paperback is just swoon-worthy.