Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I avoided this book for several years!  My mother-in-law lent it to me and Brian recommended it, but I knew it was about vampires (no more Twilight for me, thankyouverymuch) and it was REALLY thick.  In a moment of desperation, I finally picked it up and was instantly hooked.  Three story lines - our narrator's present, her father's past, and his mentor's past - criss-cross through the novel revealing more and more of the history of Dracula, who very well may still be alive.  The book was tense and chilling, but never too gross or scary.  In 600 pages, I only ended up with one bad dream, so that isn't too bad!  It had a few sections of Ottoman/Byzantine history that I skimmed and I didn't love the ending (there were some things that weren't wrapped up neatly enough for me), but overall, this was a very good read and I'm glad I finally picked it up!

Summary from Amazon:

If your pulse flutters at the thought of castle ruins and descents into crypts by moonlight, you will savor every creepy page of Elizabeth Kostova's long but beautifully structured thriller The Historian. The story opens in Amsterdam in 1972, when a teenage girl discovers a medieval book and a cache of yellowed letters in her diplomat father's library. The pages of the book are empty except for a woodcut of a dragon. The letters are addressed to: "My dear and unfortunate successor." When the girl confronts her father, he reluctantly confesses an unsettling story: his involvement, twenty years earlier, in a search for his graduate school mentor, who disappeared from his office only moments after confiding to Paul his certainty that Dracula--Vlad the Impaler, an inventively cruel ruler of Wallachia in the mid-15th century--was still alive. The story turns out to concern our narrator directly because Paul's collaborator in the search was a fellow student named Helen Rossi (the unacknowledged daughter of his mentor) and our narrator's long-dead mother, about whom she knows almost nothing. And then her father, leaving just a note, disappears also.
Read: December 2011 (borrowed from Bette)

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