Review: The Historian

The Historian
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Plenty of previous reviewers have summed up the gist of this novel: a young woman — a teenager, actually — goes in search of her missing father, and along the way discovers a horrifying family connection to Vlad Tepes and Dracula. Okay, that’s an over-simplification but, really, others have done better with the plot synopsis, so I’ll leave that bit to them and tell you this, instead:

R.I.P. Review SiteI stand here in awe of the way Elizabeth Kostova structured her story: Layer upon layer of epistolary documents, each describing another, older, deeper layer, and filled with rich historical detail like decadent buttercream at the center of a sponge cake, until at last we reach the heart of the mystery, buried deep in the 15th century and hidden in the remote reaches of eastern Europe.

Wow.

I acquired The Historian in 2007, and it sat on my bookshelves for six years before I finally read it. Kostova’s second novel, The Swan Thieves, has been sitting on the shelf since 2010. I don’t think I’ll wait nearly as long to read it.

View all my reviews

The Historian Read-along

This book was read as part of R.I.P VIII, Peril the First Challenge. Click that badge up there that says “Review Site” to see other participants and their reviews.
Peril the First

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5 thoughts on “Review: The Historian

  1. I love the way you described the novel – because you are absolutely right! I cannot even imagine the amount of research that went in to constructing this book, and it was her first novel! I didn’t know she had another book out, I will definitely look in to that.

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  2. I think I’ve had this one on my shelves even longer than you have!!! I was not totally impressed with this book (I thought the layering and overabundance of detail got tiresome at times), but I do admire her gumption. I can’t even imagine writing a book like this. Thanks for reading along with us!

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  3. The first time I read The Historian, I was literally staying up till 1 or 2 AM (really, really late for me). It was a very exciting book. I enjoyed rereading again with so many bloggers to discuss it with.

    I read The Swan Thieves perhaps 2 years ago. It is very, very different. Not to put you off it, but I did not like it nearly as much as The Historian.

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