Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Historian By Elizabeth Kostova Read-a-long Review and Wrap-up!

I finished! This was a really thick book but it didn't seem that long and it moved along pretty fast. Thanks to Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for the R.I.P. VIII challenge and The Estella Society for hosting this fabulous readalong!

Publisher's Summary:

For centuries, the story of Dracula has captured the imagination of readers and storytellers alike. Kostova's breathtaking first novel, ten years in the writing, is an accomplished retelling of this ancient tale. "The story that follows is one I never intended to commit to paper.. As an historian, I have learned that, in fact, not everyone who reaches back into history can survive it." With these words, a nameless narrator unfolds a story that began 30 years earlier. 
Late one night in 1972, as a 16-year-old girl, she discovers a mysterious book and a sheaf of letters in her father's library -- a discovery that will have dreadful and far-reaching consequences, and will send her on a journey of mind-boggling danger. While seeking clues to the secrets of her father's past and her mother's puzzling disappearance, she follows a trail from London to Istanbul to Budapest and beyond, and learns that the letters in her possession provide a link to one of the world's darkest and most intoxicating figures. Generation after generation, the legend of Dracula has enticed and eluded both historians and opportunists alike. Now a young girl undertakes the same search that ended in the death and defilement of so many others -- in an attempt to save her father from an unspeakable fate.

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My Summary:

Kostova really knows how to weave stories and characters and times and places. I felt transported to the lands and times she wrote about. I could taste the food and feel the cool mountains.

There are only short bouts of real time when the author (the daughter of the main characters) writes about her real-time journey. The rest is told through very long letters. And some are told letters within letters or a story within a story. It gets pretty layered quickly and sometimes I had a hard time remembering whose story was who's. But it worked for the story she needed to tell and so I just went with it.

She paints quite the trail for Drakula. His story is creepy and his minions are always around the corner. I liked how she drew the myth of Dracula into a modern-day legend, tying him in quite nicely.

The ending was a bit anti-climatic but still satisfying! I thoroughly enjoyed this creepy and beautifully written book!


  1. It's been a while since I read this, but I really liked it :)

    1. Yea, overall a fun read but I don't think I'll ever reread this. The ending was just too disappointing.

  2. I read this one years ago and it totally wrapped me up. And then I got to the end and just about threw the book across the room. I hated the ending. I read 1000 pages and in the end basically things were exactly the way they were in the beginning.

    1. Not a fan of the ending either. So no rereads for me on this one!

  3. For some reason I've never felt the urge to read this one, but you do make a compelling argument :)

    1. It's long but if you enjoy historical fiction with some Dracula fare and some great site details for Romania, Turkey, etc, you should enjoy it!

  4. I finally got caught up on my life and finished this book for the read along.

    I really liked the traveling in this book, especially through Paul's eyes who had not seen so many of the places he went with Helen. And I love it when an author takes the time to include food!

    I read Dracula a year or two ago and then cooked a meal based on the Transylvanian food described in the book. It was marvelous fun.


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