Sunday, August 1, 2010

"The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova

Title: The Historian
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Published: Back Bay Books, 2003
Where I Got It: My favorite thrift store in Melbourne, Florida, where books are only 25 cents!
Why I Read It: I've heard great things about it

It's my day to review at The Broke and the Bookish! Find my review here.

The Historian is a monster of a book – it was extremely hard to sit down and write a review about it. My head was spinning with details and pictures for weeks after I read it.

The story is, in short, about Dracula. More specifically about four people who search for his grave, but we still get a lot of info about Dracula and who he was in real life. In the meantime, these four people have researched extensively, or received hints, and believe that Dracula actually is the vampire that Bram Stoker made him out to be, and still alive somewhere in central Europe. The journey that they all take, separately, is full of plot twists, monsters, love, and heartbreak.

However, the book can get awfully confusing really fast. We essentially have four different stories in four different time periods going on at once: Bartholomew Rossi’s (a professor), the narrator’s, the narrator’s parents, and Dracula’s. The majority of the story (I'm talking 300+ pages) is written in the form of letters and flashbacks, jumping sporadically from one to another in the blink of an eye. I'll admit that I skimmed some sections, then skipped a chapter or two entirely. The ending is very sudden, and I'm guessing is supposed to be a dramatic as well, but the way it was written is ho-hum. Not a satisfactory conclusion in my opinion.

I find that it's so easy to bash books, yet harder to find the good deep inside. Elizabeth Kostova did A LOT of research for this book, and it shows profoundly. I learned a lot about Dracula, obviously, but also about the history of Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. I particularly like the narrator's (another character whose name we never find out!) point of view, but I felt she was almost completely ignored most of the time.

I recommend The Historian if you are willing to set aside a big chunk of time to devote to the story. This isn’t light reading, you in sense actually have to work to read and understand the book. It's up to you whether you are up to the challenge or not, but I promise you this, the story will effectively draw you in and scare the crap out of you.


Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, more commonly known as Vlad the Impaler, or simply Dracula.

I gotta say, Edward Cullen’s got nothing on Dracula. Has Edward ever impaled babies onto their mother’s chests? Does he have that cool of a mustache? Didn’t think so.

3.5 stars.

3 comments:

  1. I've started this book numerous times but, as you said, it is rather daunting. I completed her second novel (The Swan Thieves) earlier this week which I found to be enjoyable (I still need to review it but I'm left without words concerning it really). Reading that has made me more interested in giving this book another shot.

    I'm pretty sure, though, a friend of mine has it on audio book. If that is the case, I might go that route instead of actually reading it. I'm not usually an "audio book person" (I love holding books too much), but some books...it's just required.

    Well, that was a ramble-y comment =]

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  2. I read this book about 1 1/2 or 2 years ago . . . and it seemed like it took 1 1/2 or 2 years to slog through it. ;) It's one of those strange situations where it's actually a really good book, but it just seems to take forever to finish. I was never very eager to pick it up.

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  3. 'The Historian' is not a bad summer read, its temper is, unfortunately superficial. The Dracula myth is blatantly sexual. Ms. Kostava does not address this issue in her novel. That's too bad, the book would have benefited.

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