The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

About the book

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.
In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright – a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.

Reviewed by Petersfield U3A Group1

Well written but overlong. Very divided over it as a group, but those who persevered read to the end with great interest. Great descriptions of the countryside involved.
Star rating ***

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2 thoughts on “The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova”

  1. Reviewed by Park Road Readers
    A mixed bag of opinions. Two of us found it boring and hard going and gave up. Four of us enjoyed it; clever narrative structure, but too long. Good evocation of place.
    Star rating ***


  2. Reviewed by New Forest/Waterside U3A
    This novel proved too daunting for several members of our group who did not finish reading it. The rest rated it highly. The multi-voice technique for unfolding the plot requires the full involvement of the reader; it is not a book for skimming or speed-reading. There are wonderful descriptions of place reminiscent of Sir Walter Scott and complex historical details, all of which are essential to unfolding of the plot. For the narrator of the story to remain un-named, even in dialogue, through a novel eighty chapters long gives a subtle seasoning to this retelling of the Dracula story. Our resulting discussion was more about the nature of evil than of the structure of the novel.
    Star rating ***


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