The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

ImageThe first time I read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova it was January of 2006. It was a slow read as there were pages and pages of descriptive passages regarding libraries, monasteries, and villages. The last quarter of the book I read inside an ill-lit coffeeshop at night and I read with fervor. Then I had a cold, dark walk home under leftover Christmas lights. I was jittery from too many cups of black coffee and I carried the hefty hardback under my arm. The book keep slipping and I was lost in thought musing over the Dickensian-length novel I just completed.

I adored this book.

For those unaware, the book follows a nameless girl (about 16 or 17 years old) who discovers some old letters in her father’s study. What comes next is an adventure to discover Vlad Țepeș’s final resting place.  What the book is ACTUALLY about is the complete and utter thrill one gets when doing research. Yes, research is absolutely thrilling and I was riveted by the discovery of every book, map, and letter.

I was worried about re-reading this book. Most of my bookish buddies were ambivalent towards this book citing it as long-winded or predictable. Maybe I read it too quickly? Maybe I didn’t read with a critical eye? Maybe a re-read would result in my being disappointed with what I thought was a favorite novel. Maybe I would re-read it and it would match my disappointment with The Swan Thieves.

I’m happy to say that The Historian didn’t disappoint.

I adore this book.

Maybe it is because I love especially long novels (like those by Charles Dickens), or that I work in a library and adore research, or that I can never get my fill of books with trains and travel. Whatever it is, this novel just works for me. I love the long descriptions, I love the layered text (journals, letters, and books oh my!), I love that the male protagonist takes on a care-giver role while the female protagonist(s) are actively seeking Dracula.

If you like long books, work in a library or research, or have even a slim interest in Vlad Țepeș then I highly recommend this book.


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