Book Review: Elena (Book 2 of Shadow and Blood)

Book Cover from Amazon

Elena (Daughters of Shadow and Blood Book 2) by J. Matthew Saunders


Gračanica. Kosovo, 1689: Elena, an Albanian peasant girl, has sacrificed her own future to keep her family from starving, but one horrific night they are taken from her, murdered by monsters out of her nightmares. She seeks refuge at the nearby monastery, where she meets Stjepan, a Serbian monk familiar with creatures that stalk the night. Elena longs to return to her farm, but piecing her life back together may be impossible. Stjepan draws her into a dark conspiracy involving an ancient brotherhood, and as war looms, a stranger named Lek appears, threatening to overturn everything she thought she knew about her family and herself.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1999: Since surviving the showdown between the vampire Yasamin and the terrorist group Süleyman’s Blade, Adam Mire has lived in hiding, posing as an unassuming Czech librarian. His life is upended again, however, when a new threat arises—one intent on using Dracula’s legacy to unleash another wave of violence across the already war-ravaged nation.

Meanwhile, Clara MacIntosh, the love Adam left behind, has come to Eastern Europe to find him. While tracking him down, she becomes entangled in a string of grisly murders—deaths Adam is investigating as well. As they both follow clues literally written in blood, time runs short to unmask the killer before history comes full-circle and chaos engulfs the region again.



Not quite as engrossing as the first book of the trilogy; Yasmin and the Ottoman Empire are a tough beginning to beat, both being powerhouses of beauty and death. Elena is much more quiet, the shadows are hers … a person you fall for even as you know she will kill you. The silent breeze brushing a moment against your throat.

Mr. Saunders again creates a compelling Bride, completely different from the first. The story continues to have the tangle of timelines – going over Elena’s story from the middle ages, the horror of present day Sarajevo, a quick side trip to Lord Bryon eighteen hundreds, etc. The mysteries deepen – where I thought the green hand was going is not necessarily where the trip will end. And as for the medallion – so many players are after it, Mr. Saunders has his work cut out for him to bring this to a satisfying conclusion in the final book.

A slightly slower book for the middle of the trilogy, but driving relentlessly forward to a conclusion with Mr. Saunders beautiful descriptive prose. The book works well both as a stand-alone and as part of the series; I would recommend reading the first book of the series first, but it is not required.

I lightly touched on the first book of the series in an author spotlight for Mr. Saunders: here.