Robin Wasserman's The Book of Blood and Shadow is told in the first POV by Nora Kane who is a student at Chapman Prep. Nora ended up participating in this experiment as a way to escape classes and to get her mind off her very unhappy home life and the loss of her older brother to absolutely stupidity on his part.
Nora and her friends Chris Moore, Adriane Ames, as well as research assistant Max Lewis who is Chris’s roommate, are all working with Professor Anton Hoffpauer to translate the Voynich Manuscript when things slowly begin to unravel leaving no one untouched by the manuscripts wake and devastation.
In the process of translating the manuscript, Nora becomes entranced by Elizabeth Jane Weston’s story as well as her memoirs describing the so called Lumen Dei that was said to have existed during the time frame of 1598-1600. The so called Lumen Dei is said to give the user the promise of untold power, of sacred answers, of god like abilities, and is sad to be able to end the world as we know it.
*Side Note* Weston, it seems, was an actual person who lived during the 16th century. Her story has been confirmed as being real by Wasserman’s own research which is shown in the back of the book. The Voynich Manuscript is real as well. The only part that isn’t real or factual, are the secret societies that are introduced. This is not unlike Dan Brown’s contention that the Catholic Church is the root of all that is evil in the world today, and they have control over societies like the Free Masons and Opus Dei.
Things slowly begin to spiral out of control for Nora and friends when Chris is found murdered in his home, Adriane is discovered catatonic, and Max goes missing and is presumed to be Chris’s killer. After Nora is warned by her professor NOT to allow herself to be lead into harm’s way--Nora and Adriane end up in Prague where they discover even more mysteries and danger.
For me, Nora reminds me of Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code in her ability to translate and follow the leads from the death of her best friend, to betrayal by her so called lover, to her near death experience in Prague. Brown should be humored in realizing that another author saw his writing as worthy of being emulated and not threated that Wasserman used Teenagers, instead of adults as her main characters.
This could also be consider as sort of a Historical Fiction in that Wasserman uses actual settings and history in order to tell her story. I truly believe that the city of Prague is an interesting city and needs to be explored more by new, as well as established authors. There is so much history that there for the taking.
The Book of Blood and Shadow will find a niche in the world once it is released and enough people have read the reviews that precede the published date of April 10, 2012.
*ARC Recvd 01/14/2012* Expected publication: April 10th 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Title: The Book of Blood & Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Genres: YA Fantasy & Mystery