The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The HistorianOpening Sentence:The story that follows is one that I never intended to commit to paper.
Synopsis:Breathtakingly suspenseful and beautifully written, The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family’s past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages. The search for the truth becomes an adventure of monumental proportions, taking us from monasteries and dusty libraries to the capitals of Eastern Europe – in a feat of storytelling so rich, so hypnotic, so exciting that it has enthralled readers around the world.
Comments:I loved this book and found it almost impossible to put down. The tale is told in an elegant, graceful style that brings to mind some of the great nineteenth century classics, and the characters are very real and believable. The Historian is set against the background of contemporary communist politics, yet it is filled with the rich details of Eastern European history. I love how we are invited to share the exciting, frustrating, and sometimes mundane life of historians – trying to piece together clues, some incomplete, others so tiny as to be almost missed, and come up with a plausible theory of how things once were. Despite this plodding journey, there is not a page of this book that is dull. Rather it is filled with a lingering feeling of menace, as though something sinister is peering over our shoulder this very minute.

The Dracula legend is old, tired, jaded. Many modern authors have tried to freshen it up by remaking the genre – portraying vampires as mis-understood creatures. Kostova returns to the image of vampires as evil, damned, terrifyingly seductive, yet she has done so in such a way that we are reminded of the bone-chilling fear these creatures can inspire.

I find it hard to believe that this is Kostova’s first novel. With a talent this large, we can expect great things from her in future. My only fault with this book is that, after our slow piecing together of the facts, the ending seems a little fast and squashed together. No doubt this will improve as she gains experience.

All in all, I feel The Historian, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, will live on as a classic of the vampire genre.

Categories: Impressions

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