Friday, August 22, 2008

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

A gripping, chilling tale, based on one of the most awe-inspiring characters in world history and literature, the Dracula, or Vlad, the Impaler. In THE HISTORIAN, Elizabeth Kostova expertly weaves history and mystery to give us a book that is a compelling must-read. Based on eight years of research, the book reflects the author’s hard work and passion for a subject that has inspired many a folklores and many researchers.

Kostova's own passion for the central character in this book is almost contagious, and the avid reader with the love of history, geography, fantasy and occult, will find it hard to keep this book down without reading it from cover to cover. Poignant in its expression of the father-daughter relationship; spine-chilling in the unveiling of the mysterious tale of the supernatural; breathtaking in its scenic description, and scholastic in the portrayal of history, customs, politics and the academic fraternity across global boundaries.

The writing style is so convincing and the facts and fiction woven so intricately, that as the patterns in the book evolve, the reader is persuaded that the story is true and alive. This book is a masterpiece of a debut novel, especially as the author effortlessly weaves through the past and the present, through characters, geographies and situations, not giving the female protagonist a name… until the end…
From the Jacket

"To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history...."Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor," and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of—a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history. The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known—and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself—to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

Read an excerpt.


moonrat said...

You know, I didn't love this book. I read it because of all of the hype in the publishing world about the outlandish first advance she got, but I honestly wished it had been about 200 pages shorter--I thought it got terribly repetitive as the same story was told and re-told.

However, I do think it was breathtakingly evocative of Eastern Europe, from the little of Eastern Europe I had seen before I read it. And as a result of her stunning passages about Istanbul, I got very interested in Turkey.

I would recommend the book, but I didn't love it quite as much as media attention seems to imply other people did.

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

While the writing and the history were very compelling, the ending is so empty; so anticlimactic that it made the long journey a waste. Kostova managed to make the destruction of Dracula - someone who haunted these characters across generations - about as dramatic as ordering a Diet Coke. I very much enjoyed having the tension so painstakingly built up one small step at a time over the course of the story, but when the 'payoff' falls that far short and the characters turn out in the end to be paper-thin, I have to call the story a failure no matter how beautifully written it might be.

cindy said...

thanks for the review! it looks intriguing--too bad the two comments don't seem to LOVE it as much. but that's the way of books.

Alan said...

I thoughht it was great! I enjoyed your splendid review. Of course, I am, really into Vampires. I love the Saint-Germain series by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.