Book Review: The Historian

I’m not gonna lie to you, I almost didn’t finish this over 900-paged book The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. The first 200 pages are literally some of the most boring introduction to a story line that I’ve read in a while. But a good friend recommended and loaned this book to me, so I doggedly plugged through it and then I hit the 200 mark and something interesting happened and it caught my attention. I was then mildly interested enough to go back to the book between other reads for the next 200 to 300 pages. Then the book got way awesome and I set aside my other reading to finish the book and for the last 200 pages I kept trying to skim through them to find out WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN! and having to go back and read more thoroughly. My piece of advice if you want to read this book is to not give up until you have read at least 200 pages and don’t skip ahead, it isn’t worth it and you will not understand a word you are reading.

Ok, enough about how to read the book. What is this book about? Well, it is basically some three stories in one (hence the 900 pages). One story is about a man who is given this weird book with a dragon on it who sets out to find out whether Dracula did indeed die, or if he found a way to be immortal, in other words whether vampires exist. The man is a historian, and since google didn’t exist the only way to find out information is to travel to other lands and do research in libraries. Remember those? He has a companion who travels with him, a woman historian interested in defaming her father and finding out her personal heritage.

This story is told to the man’s daughter. Then the man disappears and his daughter sets out to find him, she travels across Europe with a traveling companion met at a college she toured. During her travels she continues to read her father’s letters and write down what oral stories he told her. So the second story is this child trying to uncover her history, the history of her father’s travels, and whether vampires exist. She is pursued by shadows and begins to uncover some of her mother’s past, a mother she has never known, as well.

The third story is the over all arc, the interwoven theme, do vampires exist? If so how? The only way to figure this out is to be constantly diligent, to search the villages of Romania, to travel to Bulgaria and other fascinating European places. A well written account full of historical nuances of how people used to do research before the Internet. When traveling involved more than drinks at airports and how everyone has a history.

I really ended up loving this book. It became absolutely fascinating to me, and a desire to travel to Europe and search for Dracula welled up inside of me, until I forced myself to remember that though historically accurate and told as though a non-fictional account of several people’s attempts to find Dracula, it is actually a fictitious account. While not an easy read, I recommend picking this book up, picking through it until the pacing becomes frantic. Extremely well written historical fiction with the added bonus of science fiction, this book is not only made the New York Times best seller list, but sure to be a classic.

Read another review here and here.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Historian

    • I’m not usually one who can get through a dry book like that and keep going, but I’m glad I did. A co-worker who loved her first book said he did not think her second book was as good and he wished she had stuck with her original genre. By which I took him to mean vampires and such. So, I’m undecided about her second book.

  1. Great review! I liked

    The Historian as well. I agree w/ you that the pacing was a little off. And I thought there were some narrative problems here and there. But Liked the book overall.

    I’ve made a couple of attempts w/ her second book and I haven’t been able to get through it. The second book is very different. I don’t know. I should revisit it.

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds | Absurdly Nerdly

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