Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

The Book of Blood and Shadow

The Book of Blood and Shadow - Robin Wasserman Also appears on my blog, The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via Edelweiss.The power of a good mystery caper through history and literature that takes intrepid investigators around the world and forces them to hide from secret societies that want them dead or otherwise stopped cannot be denied. The Da Vinci Code is evidence enough of this. The Book of Blood and Shadow is easily comparable to the famous novel and will find an audience in the people who love those kinds of stories. Me? Not so much.It all starts with Nora's night of blood: the night she finds her best friend murdered and his girlfriend practically catatonic next to his body. An exciting novel seems to await the reader, but then the narrative backtracks to a few months before the murders--back when it was Nora, Chris, and Max working with a professor on the mysterious Voynich manuscript.The hundred or so pages spent just on what happened before the night of blood establish the main players and their personalities, but the effect this backtracking has on the pacing is like dropping a person into a hole two miles deep and telling them to use some kitchen utensils to get out. It takes the novel just as long to get going as it does for the person to climb out of the hole because of the lengthy detour. Is it necessary? I think so. Does that better the pacing of the novel or make the sluggish pacing okay? Not at all.It's when the plot kicks in and Nora sets off for Prague--which unfortunately takes about half the novel--that Blood and Shadow hits its stride. The intricacies of the Lumen Dei mystery and two societies formed around it, one dedicated to finding it and the other to destroying it, are well-plotted and the novel itself is well-written, if a little bloated. The length was once again necessary for all the ideas and twists going into the novel, but it felt twice as large as it was. Few twists couldn't be seen coming one way or another; fewer still packed the punch that all good twists do. As compelling as Nora found the mystery, I can't say I felt the same way.I found the story of Elizabeth Weston, the poet whose letters and accounts of her work on the Lumen Dei lead the way for Nora and company, more interesting than Nora's own story. More intelligent, more compelling, more lively despite the whole "being dead" misfortune--she's overall more interesting than Nora was ever able to be. I became impatient for Nora to get back to Elizabeth's letters and reveal more of the original search for the Lumen Dei.The Book of Blood and Shadow is best suited for adventurous readers with a taste for the mysteries of the past and an endless amount of patience for novels that take a while to get where they're going. A quick read this is not, but a fascinating read it most certainly is.