The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

The Book of Shadow and Bone by Robin Wasserman

Wasserman, Robin. The Book of Blood and Shadow. Random House Children’s Books 2012. ISBN 0375968768

Reader’s Annotation: One of Nora’s best friends has been murdered, the other catatonic and the police believe her boyfriend is responsible. Can she clear his name and solve a hundreds of years old mystery?

Plot Summary: In one night Nora’s life falls apart as she finds her best friend, Chris, murdered, her other best friend, Adriane, catatonic and sitting in Chris’s blood, and her boyfriend, Max, has disappeared and is the prime suspect.  Nora’s determined to prove his innocence and to do so she has to solve a centuries old mystery buried in an old manuscript that some would kill to possess while others will kill to keep it a secret.

Critical Evaluation

This book brought to mind a The Da Vinci Code wannabe story.  There is a centuries old manuscript that no one has ever been able to decipher until Nora makes a discovery that unlocks the cipher and sets off a horrific chain of events.  Her journey to Prague to follow the clues, the secret societies that want the device that could let them talk directly to God and the society that is determined to prevent this were all fascinating.

Each of the characters were well fleshed out and Nora especially is easy to relate to as she is naive and spunky at the same time.  Though the murderer is pretty obvious from the start it is understandable why Nora and her friends do not find out the truth until it is too late.

My main issue with the story was the fact that things were just a little too convenient at times in order to move the story along.  Instead of these events flowing naturally it almost felt like the story was about to stall so something had to be thrown in to help out.  One example is that through the entire book Nora talks about how her parents have pretty much checked out of life since her older brother died.  Her mother rarely comes home from work and her father has barricaded himself in his office.  Yet, when Nora is stuck on a certain riddle all of a sudden her father decides to come out of his lair, just happen to recognize the code she’s working on within a few minutes and then we really don’t see him at all again for the rest of the book.  If he was really trying to reach out to her and move beyond the tragedy of her brother’s death you would think Nora’s father would be seen reaching out at least once more or Nora making a bigger deal out of the fact that he did come to speak with her that one time.

Overall, the book is an enjoyable read especially for those who like mysteries with a historical tie and involves codes or ciphers.

About the author

Before becoming an author Robin was a children’s book editor.  She is the author of the Cold Awakening trilogy, the Seven Deadly Sins series and several others including this one.

Though she did live in LA for awhile she currently makes her home in New York.



Curriculum Ties

History, English

Book talking idea

Talk about the religious beliefs of those who want to speak directly to God and those who believe people should go through the church.

Discuss ciphers and codes used often in texts, messages, etc.

Reading level

Grades 9 and up.

Challenge Issues


Why did I include this book?

This is a little embarrassing to admit but I initially picked it up because I mixed it up with Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo which I have seen many on Twitter and on the YALSA mailing lists talk about.  However, upon reading the synopsis it peaked my interest as it sounded like something those with an interest in mysteries, history and ciphers would enjoy.


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Filed under Fiction, Mystery

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