The Book of Blood and Shadow- Robin Wasserman.

I found this lying around *ahem* so until the cover is
released… it’ll have to do. 

Synopsis 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.

“Never date a guy who can fit into your jeans- Adriane often warned me- failing to mention that it was because I might someday need him to save me from a secret society of murdering Renaissance Faire rejects.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Sigh…. And we were doing so well.
OK, up until about 80% this book would have been a 5 star book. I was happily ignoring the mental far-fetchedness of the plot because I loved the characters and the setting and the writing. But even I couldn’t suspend my disbelief at the end. More on this later….

High Points.
Boys, boys, boys. Nora. Friendship. European globetrotting. History. Murder. Love. Double crossing. Churches. Prince Charming. Language. Latin. The writing. Letters. Secrets. Blood. Conspiracies. Ninja moves. On the lam. Novelty underpants.

Low Points.
OK, the last 20% were just ridiculous. So much crazy stuff happened that even if I ignored my no spoiler rule… I don’t think I could actually tell you everything that happened. Some of the reveals I had ‘guessed’ (when I say guessed I mean I thought ‘Oh no… that’s not going to happen is it? He’s not… she’s not… Oh god… he is, they are!’ way) and they still confused me. Others were just so random. And then there were the chosen ones and guns and the melting faces.
Also, I’m particularly good at ignoring historical inaccuracies (within reason) and authors bending theories to fit their stories because that kind of thing isn’t my strong point. So I’m not entirely sure, if that is your area of expertise how you’d feel about this book. But I’m just saying… it wasn’t a low point for me but it could be for others.
But other than that… I really did enjoy this book. The story was a bit fanciful and I haven’t been completely sure about religious sects and secret societies and whatnot post-Mr Brown… but the characters, the writing and the narration made up for this.
But…authors: STOP KILLING OFF LOVELY LOVE INTERESTS. Seriously, I have only just got over the fact that I could never be with Charlie and then you throw Chris at me.
No fair, Ms Wasserman. No fair.

Nora, I’m pretty sure we’re the same person. We have the same views on EVERYTHING including religion, school, love and just life in general.
So… that makes me as awesome as you, right?
I loved how, even when the plot booked a ticket to Fruit Loop Town, you stayed extremely normal and you didn’t turn into a crazy person.
I just loved your narration… seriously, I underlined practically everything you said.

“I hated romance novels, romantic comedies, and cheesy love poetry with equal passion- but I wasn’t stupid enough to think I could ignore them, I believed in happily ever after as much as anyone because Jane Austen, Prince Charming, and Hugh Grant promised me it could happen.
But maybe that particular delusion was universal.”

And it didn’t even bother me that you were a bit angsty (because, with everything considered, you deserved it!) or that there were a lot of boys in love with you.
Because I think I was a little bit in love with you by the end.
There was the bit that I thought you were going to turn out to be Jesus… but it turned out fine so the above statement still stands.

I actually loved the connections between Elizabeth, her story and her letters, and Nora. I was a bit unsure about them at first but they really grew on me. They effortlessly merged together and they never seemed forced. They were also beautifully written and poetic without being too over the top.

“I have discovered what fills the vacuum left by love. It is called necessity, and it will not be denied.”

I’m so so glad that you didn’t turn out to be like that godawful Sabrina film that I watched when I was ill. You know, the one with the locket and a painting and the fact you were her long lost, long dead relative.
You don’t know the one?
Neither do I.
Heh heh.

Best Friend.
I could write an essay on my feelings on Adriane. But I won’t, don’t worry…. Because there are a lot of twisty turns in this book and it’s good not knowing.
Every time I read the name ‘Adriane’ I got that song from The Calling in my head and all I could think of was of the lead singer’s crazy eyebrows and his ridonkulous hair and his rooftop angst.
This has nothing to do with the story or this Adriane …. ALTHOUGH, the lyrics are quite apt.
Anyway… moving on.

Love Interest.
I literally have NO idea where to start with this.
When I pick up a book there is about a 91% chance that I will fancy someone within the creamy pages.
In this book… there were THREE.
(It didn’t stay that way though…. My loyalties were tested in this.)
We first meet Chris, who is quickly dubbed as Prince Charming because he is HOT STUFF and sexy and funny and has curly hair and Nora is instantly in love with him….because she’s human.
Sounds simple, right?
NO. Because he’s dead.
This is not a spoiler because it tells us in the synopsis and it’s also his blood splattered across the walls in the first page.
He’s genuinely dead and buried and it’s very sad but he’s still so cute and he’s not really a love interest but I couldn’t not include him. Because I love him.
BUT WAIT… there’s more.
Then we have Max… awkward, brooding, a little unhinged. Stereotypical love interest? No siree.
He likes history. He quotes poetry. He treats Nora with respect. He wears vintage t-shirts. He likes to travel. Sure…. he has some faults. But I won’t go into them… *cough*
BUT WAIT… I’m not done yet.
Because here comes Eli. Oh Eli. You dark horse with your mystery and your humour and your snarky retorts. And you are cultured, you can speak Czech, you are intelligent and you have ninja moves. I also appreciate your love for wearing novelty t-shirts to bed (Dennis the Menace). Also.. Tweety Bird undercrackers. What girl could resist?
Again…. you have some faults. And again, I won’t go into them.

So, all in all, out of the boys (with a pulse) Eli, you are a WINNER.
Hurrah for you.

Theme Tune
I struggled with this one because there were a lot of feelings and ideas covered. But I kept circling back to Nora and the way she was so guarded with her feelings, and was reluctant to move forward and how, even though she pretended to be tough and cynical and whatevz, she was vulnerable and sad inside.
Which, considering the crap she’s had to deal with in her sixteen or so years on this earth, is perfectly understandable.
I loved that the ending was so ambiguous and Ms Wasserman allowed us to fill in the blanks.
So this song is my blank.

And I know you don’t believe in happy endings and they are for optimists and dreamers… but I hope you get one, Nora.
It may take a while, but you’ll get there.
And tell him I say hi.

And if not… screw you, Hugh Grant.
*shakes fist*

Boy Angst Level.

Sadness Scale.

I’m skipping these two because it would be impossible to talk about them without ruining everything.

Recommended For.
People who like adventure stories with heaps of mystery. People who like strong and hilarious heroines. People who can read the Da Vinci Code for the entertainment side of things and not get angry and stabby. People who like letters…. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE. People who can’t resist a boy who has a European accent… that isn’t English. People who blame Richard Curtis for all of their love problems. People who want to travel to Prague… without, y’know, all the murder. People who like boys to wear novelty underwear.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers. It will be published early next year.

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