Friday, May 31, 2013

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I'd always wanted to read The Historian because it deals with Dracula, the ultimate vampire. I love vampire stories so I was eager to read The Historian. I put it off since it's 642 pages. But since this year, I'm reading longer books, I decided it was time to pick up The Historian.
A young girl lives with her father (Paul) in Amsterdam in the 70's. Her mother died when she was a small child. The girl's father was an academic but now runs a worldwide organization helping spread peace. The girl has few friends and spends hours reading in her father's library. One day, she comes across a stack of letters, addressed to My Dear and Unfortunate Sucessor. The girl is intrigued and begins to study the letters. After a while, she asks her father about the letters. Flashback to 1950's (?), Paul is in college, finishing his graduate degree. One night, at the library, a strange book appears in Paul's carrel. Paul shows it to his advisor, Professor Rossi, who has his own story to relate. Both Professor Rossi's story and Paul's story are about Vlad the Impaler or Dracula.
I was unprepared for the amount of history that laid out for the reader. I know nothing about 1400's/1500's Eastern Europe. Much of the book is about the policial, religious, and economic times of that era. It was interesting but it was a lot. Even with all of that, I still was able to connect to the young girl, Paul, and Professor Rossi. It takes a while for the story to get going but once it does, it's well paced. You'll want to know what's going to happen next. My only gripe was that once the story got going, it stayed with Paul in the past, rather than focusing on the girl in the current time. I enjoyed her journey slightly more than Paul's original journey but understood why Kostova stayed with Paul's story more than the girl's.
I have a confession. I do not like big books. They are hard to read on the bus. I liked The Historian but I hated lugging that huge book around. Made a real case for ereaders. Or audiobooks.
I enjoyed The Historian. It was suspenseful and creepy. Others who shared their thoughts on The Historian: Bookish Comforts, Scrambled Books, Book Rhapsody, and The 3 R's Blog.
This is my ninth read for the Historical Reading Challenge.
And this was my fifth read for the Mammoth Reading Challenge.
2013 Mammoth Book Challenge


  1. I enjoyed this book as well, but sadly read it before I started my blog. I also enjoyed The Swan Thieves by the same author, but it wasn't quite as good as The Historian.

  2. I remember not being able to put this down :)

  3. I want to read this! I too am a slightly scared of its size considering I have so many other books I need/want to read. Thanks for the review!

  4. I read this one in 2006 and enjoyed it for the most part. I wouldn't want to carry that one on the bus either!!

  5. This does sound really interesting! Although quite an undertaking. And while I do enjoy reading longing books, you are right in that they're such a pain to carry around.


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