The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Can we just talk about this cover for a second? I know I usually say things like “I wasn’t a big fan of the cover” or “I avoided reading this book because I hated the cover.” Not this time, friends. I love it. It’s unexpectedly subtle. Yes, we’ve got a girl’s face–that’s hardly revolutionary for the YA shelf. But check out the title itself–it’s written in shadow! As in The Book of Blood and Shadow! Get it?! And look a little closer at her eye. The towering spires of Prague, which, after you’ve read the novel, you’ll realize are pretty important.

So yes, I liked the cover. But I’m more interested in what’s inside. Thankfully, the interior content drew me in just as quickly as the exterior did.

After her brother’s tragic death, Nora reinvents herself. She changes schools and starts over with two new best friends and the fictitious claim that she is an only child. During her senior year, when she takes a position as a research assistant at the local college, she is slowly drawn into a historical intrigue centuries old. But when she begins to unravel the web of mystery and deceit, she finds herself at the center of yet another tragedy. One of her friends is dead, the other is apparently brainwashed, and, according to the police, her boyfriend Max is at fault. Desperate to prove his innocence and to set history straight once and for all, Nora takes off on a European adventure that will change her life and everything she thinks she knows.

This fast paced supernatural thriller (oh, yeah, there’s a supernatural element here, too) starts off with a bang and doesn’t let up until the final pages. I particularly enjoyed the intertwining stories of Nora and Elizabeth Weston, her sixteenth-century research subject. The novel’s got that summer blockbuster sort of appeal: a determined heroine, a historical damsel with a dark secret, a series of letters that contain the code to crack said secret, a mysterious Illuminati-esque society, and plenty of ninja-style combat to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Thanks, Robin Wasserman (Cold Awakening Trilogy), for bringing the summer reads early this year–just in time to tear through over spring break!

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman; Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; 17.99; Ages 14+

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