Friday, February 8, 2013

The Book of Blood and Shadow

Wasserman, Robin. 2012. THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW. New York, NY: Knopf. ISBN 9780375868764. [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

Nora, a high school senior, joins her friend and his roommate Max to work with “The Hoff,” a professor who is at the end of his career. Her assigned job seems unimportant, translating the letters of a 16th century woman who was the daughter of an alchemist. Chris and Max have been assigned a more important translations in an effort to find information about a mysterious 16th century Vynich Manuscript which is the professor’s obsession. Max and Nora begin to date and when Chris is murdered, Max is the prime suspect. Nora suspects that a mysterious secret society, the Lumen Dei, is to blame for the murder and in her quest to prove Max’s innocence travels to Prague.

This fast-paced thriller is an excellent bridge novel for those who are ready to move onto more adult reading. The plot is complex with numerous twists and turns as Nora explores secret societies, alchemy, and esoteric ideas and faces danger and dangerous people. The relationships between the main characters, the acts of madness and obsession by those who desire the knowledge contained in the missing manuscript, the intrigue and danger work well together in a novel that appeals on many levels.

This is one of those books that begs to be read by a book club. Discussion could lead into research into conspiracy theories and secret societies.

Extend the reading of the book by bringing in examples of ancient manuscripts and discuss how they are written and constructed.

Bray, Libba. THE DIVNERS. ISBN 9780316126113
Brown, Dan. THE DA VINCI CODE. ISBN 9780307474278

By Janet Hilbun

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