I finally did it! I finished the massive tome that is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, published by Little Brown. It comes in at a whopping 704 pages. This is a book I got in a blind date book box over a year ago and only just got around to reading it…oops.
Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel is The Historian, but since she has written two other novels, The Swan Thieves and The Shadow Land. She has taught at many universities and founded the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, which helps Bulgarian writers and translators.
Classified technically as a horror novel, The Historian spans a few generations of historians searching for the existence of Dracula, his tomb, and proof that vampires walk the earth.
Overall, I actually quite enjoyed this book. Kostova has clearly done A LOT of research and it was interesting to learn about the history behind Vlad the Imapler, the Ottoman Empire, Medieival Europe, and even the Soviet Union. As the historians traveled, they provided fact after fact to each other and the reader, as well as inspiring wanderlust; the book starts in Amsterdam, but we are also transported to Oxford, Paris, Wallachia, Budapest, Istanbul, Sofia, and Venice, among other places. It is a traveler’s dream.
I do think it could have been a few hundred pages shorter. In many ways, The Historian is written like a classic novel. Perhaps she was trying to capture the writing style of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but I feel like the boom emulated Victor Hugo more in the way it sometimes droned on about facts that weren’t necessarily pertinent to the story. I also think it could confusing as our protagonist reads a letter from her father who is reading a letter from his adviser. It’s like a story within a story within a story–very meta. I wish it was more clear who’s perspective we were on, and maybe even eliminated some perspectives altogether.
That being said, I would have loved to have read more from the girl’s perspective. We start with her, but the majority of the book is focused on her father which dissapointed me at times.
While I am glad I read this massive book, for it’s run-ons and confusing perspectives, I can truly only give it three stars. Still really interesting to any fellow historian out there!