I just finished my first book for the 168 hour challenge: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman. It’s a longish read–432 pages–but it also goes by quickly. The story is told from Nora Kane’s point of view and she’s a fantastic narrator. The mystery aspect was well done. I did guess a couple of key plot points long before she did, but I think they were of the kind that she was meant not to see and therefore I wasn’t bothered by that. (There’s also the fact that she’s super good at Latin translations, not necessarily detective work). The other main characters were also well-rounded and believably complicated.
Any plot involving murder, transatlantic stalking and (spoilerish) not one but two secret societies necessarily involves some suspension of disbelief, but the pacing was fast enough and the characters strong enough that I wasn’t jolted out of the story.
I did have a few issues–Nora’s voice is almost impossibly assured, though we don’t actually have any indication of how old she is when she’s narrating, and the motivations of the Fidei Defensor seemed impossibly helpful at a certain point. But I was also surprised by the heft of the story–it may seem like a popcorn book in some ways, but Wasserman also resists simple answers and characters, which really boosts the story to different level.
Incidentally, it seems like Prague is a hot setting these days–Marie Rutkoski, Laini Taylor, and now Robin Wasserman. Any others I’m missing? It makes sense–if everything I’ve heard about it is true, it has a long and fascinating history, beautiful architecture and, apparently, magic waiting around every streetcorner. Something to keep an eye on.
So, my first book was definitely a winner–I wasn’t sure how well I’d like it and I definitely did like it a LOT.