The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

(Cover picture courtesy of Reading with Tequila.)

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 fifteenth-century 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.

With a premise centred around Dracula, a novel is generally a hit-and-miss.  However, Elizabeth Kostova actually managed to pull it off and this was definitely a hit.

While the premise may attract many people, I have to say that the writing style isn’t for everyone.  It’s very descriptive and you really can picture yourself in all of the places described, but some people might find it overly-descriptive.  In historical fiction I don’t mind such things and the descriptive writing style really appealed to me because many of the settings in the novel are completely foreign to me.  Elizabeth Kostova’s writing hooks you in and slowly builds up the suspense while you wait for the shoe to drop—which it eventually does, at an unexpected time.

This is a book you really, really have to pay attention to.  I would definitely not recommend reading it when you’re tired because the plot is incredibly complicated in a blink-and-you-miss sort of way.  There are a couple of intersecting stories from different eras, which can be confusing at times, but works surprisingly well in The Historian overall.

The characters are amazing.  We don’t meet Dracula himself for very long, but he is definitely a memorable character, as are pretty much all of the characters we come across.  Elizabeth Kostova has this way of making her characters come alive, even though all we learn about some of them is through the stories of the main characters.  It’s sort of how we learn about Lestat and other characters in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and in this case, it’s highly effective.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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