Posted in Module 8, Mystery, Young Adult Fiction

Module 8: The Book of Blood and Shadow

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow

Author: Robin Wasserman

ISBN: 978-0-375-87277-8

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books


When Nora’s brother dies in a car accident, she cosoles herself by losing herself in her hobby- Latin translation. Nora receives a scholarship to a private school, where she can receive specialized instruction in Latin her senior year, and she surrounds herself with new friends who know nothing about her family’s past. When Nora’s professor asks her to translate a collection of old, and seemingly useless letters, she grudgingly takes on the task. But Nora soon discovers that the letters contain the key to a mystery that scholars have sought to uncover for centuries. Upon her discovery, Nora’s best friend is mysteriously murdered in his home, and the only witness has no memory of the event. Nora embarks on a quest to discover the truth behind the letters, and the mysterious book they are connected to. She finds herself in Prague, investigating the history behind the Voynicht manuscript, and it’s connection to a powerful alchemical machine with the power to allow its user to connect with God. Nora soon finds that she can’t trust anyone around her, as she comes closer and closer to the truth of the machine. She is captured by religious fanatics who are intent on using her blood to power the machine. Nora must fight, and find the inner strength to cope with the betrayal she faces upon discovering that her boyfriend is at the heart of the fanatic mob.

Wasserman, R. (2013). The book of blood and shadow. United States: Random House Children’s Books.

My Impressions:

This is a worthy addition to the young adult mystery genre. Nora is a lovable character to which the reader will instantly relate. She has a sassy, almost sarcastic  voice, and tells her story in a very compelling manor. The plot is engaging, and leaves the reader desperate to begin the next chapter. It is quite complex, and delivers juicy twists and turns throughout. There was quite a bit of Latin throughout the book, but it is almost always translated into English. The story feels like it gets a little tedious and long in the second half of the book, but that is by no means a deal breaker with this one. Despite the length, readers will be anxious to finish this one, and discover the secret behind the Lumen Dei.

For Use in the Library:

Recommend this text to a reader who is interested in languages. The main character’s love of language is obvious, and will likely be inspiring to young readers. Nora is easy to relate to, and will make the study of language seem mysterious and exciting.


When high school senior Nora is assigned to translate Elizabeth Weston’s Latin letters of the 1590s rather than decode the mysterious, medieval Voynich manuscript for a research project, at first she’s insulted. Then she realizes that the letters offer a vital key to the design of the Lumen Dei, an ancient alchemical device intended to give man limitless knowledge and communion with God. When her best friend and fellow researcher is murdered and her new boyfriend disappears, Nora’s caught up in an ancient competition between two secret societies whose race to build the Lumen Dei first began in Renaissance Prague—and who will kill to find out what Nora knows. As Nora searches for her vanished boyfriend throughout Prague, she becomes ever more mired in deception, double deception, murder, and theological conflict. This is a thorough mixture of contemporary American adolescence, the sixteenth-century occult, and atmospheric, historical substance, all dished up with a convoluted plot in Da Vinci Code mode. An afterword describes the historical basis of the real Voynich manuscript and sixteenth-century poet Elizabeth Weston. deirdre f. baker

Baker, D. (2012). [Review of the book The book of blood and shadow, by R. Wasserman]. Horn Book Magazine, 88(2), 122-123. Retrieved from