Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Atom
Published Date: 19 January 2012
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.

When the night began, Nora had two best friends and a boyfriend she adored. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands. Chris was dead. Adriane couldn’t speak. 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’s determined to follow the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. But Chris’s murder 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.
(summary from Goodreads)

The Book of Blood and Shadow is a story immersed in history and mystery, but to the point that it's action and twists are ultimately bogged down in too much information.

I started this book full of expectations of suspense and intrigue, ready to get lost in a story that would keep me guessing until the end. In some ways, Wasserman delivers. With murder, ancient hidden clues and a secret society, there's certainly intrigue. The downside is that it wasn't engaging. I wasn't caught up in the mystery the way I needed to be to truly enjoy this book. The Book of Blood and Shadow starts off slow, centered around Nora and her backstory - her family life, her friendships, her love of Latin and interest in translation, her budding relationship with Max. I think Wasserman aimed to have readers get to know Nora, Max, Adriane and Chris, to be impacted by Chris's murder, and that's where my biggest problem with this book lies. I never connected with these characters. There's this constant thrum of mistrust and jealousy between these four 'friends' that I found myself unable to invest because I knew it wouldn't be worth it. Betrayal was too obvious a theme right from the beginning, and that clouded the rest of the story for me, the meant-to-be shocking twists and revelations at the end. By the time Nora's hunt for the truth and questioning of whom to trust truly got underway, I already wanted it to be over. I simply didn't care enough. Wasserman certainly deserves kudos for the history involved here. There were moments of Nora's discovering a clue and putting it together that were interesting and awed me. Elizabeth's story kept me reading and Wasserman's descriptions of Prague were captivating. But these moments kept getting lost in more and more stuff, more and more drama, that I kept feeling like I was losing the plot. By the time I got to the end, in all it's fiery, skin melting off glory, I was thinking "what the f*ck is happening??" rather than being moved and wowed. And I have to say, that ending felt entirely dissatisfying. All of that, everything I had to wade through, for an ending that is full of more mistrust and betrayal. Boo, I say.

The Book of Blood and Shadow is something a little different, and if you can engage with the story and characters, it's sure to be a heck of a read. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me.



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