Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Historian

My friend Justin was kind enough to lend me the novel "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova. I had some reservations about reading the novel based on many reviews I read about it, especially on Goodreads. Don't listen to reviews folks.

"The Historian interweaves the history and folklore of Vlad Ţepeş, a 15th-century prince of Wallachia known as 'Vlad the Impaler', and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula together with the story of Paul, a professor; his 16-year-old daughter; and their quest for Vlad's tomb. The novel ties together three separate narratives using letters and oral accounts: that of Paul's mentor in the 1930s, that of Paul in the 1950s, and that of the narrator herself in the 1970s. The tale is told primarily from the perspective of Paul's daughter, who is never named."

"The Historian" is beautifully written by Kostova, amazingly her first novel. As I got further into the book I started to savor every chapter and it's wonderful detail, particularly the locations throughout the novel in western and eastern Europe between the 1930's and the 1970's. Though the premise of the novel may sound a little goofy, the book reads more like a historical mystery and less like a vampire tale. Think Dan Brown, only Kostova can actually write.

I won't spoil anymore of the book but I will say it snowballs nicely until a highly satisfactory culmination at the end. The wonderful narrative is Gothic, romantic, and suspensful. Some have argued that the book is tedious and boring which I can understand but I never felt. Even during "slower" moments in the novel I was unable to put the book down. The only other possible downside is the length of the novel. It clocks in at nearly 700 pages and the print in the copy I had was very small. Highly recommended, the best book I've read in some time.


Jason said...

It was good. It sparked my interest in eastern European history!

Dave said...

Me too. I think I'm going to read Stoker's Dracula in the near future as well.