The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
I picked up this novel in a sale and put it aside to read during a recent break from the real world. Waiting the few weeks between point-of-sale and point-of-reading was nearly painful, but worth the torture. I sat up in bed the first night of my retreat from life and dived right in. Not having read the back-cover blurb since the book store, I’d forgotten what the story was about and by the time I turned the lights off was thinking perhaps I should read it during daylight hours. If you’re at all squeamish about scary stories [like I am, in particular when there are no traffic sounds, it’s pitch black outside except for silver-misted trees, it’s breezy and branches are scratching on the window] you might want to take that into consideration. If not, have at it!
The first couple of chapters of The Historian were a little heavy going and at times confusing. I put this down to the fact that the narrator was a historian telling us a story about other historians and a lot of historic research. Don’t panic. This is all necessary and, just as it was worth the wait to read, it is also worth the effort to get through the necessary backstory. Especially as all the stories intertwine to make a great adventure and produce a gripping end.
I learnt a lot about history, researching facts and legends, and about Dracula, and was drawn right into a world where Dracula just might be, not only real, but still living. Yes, I know that there was an historic Dracula – Vlad the Impaler – but The Historian brought him right out of history and into the 21st century. I was scared, but riveted and, in a similar way after reading The Da Vinci Code, wanted to rush out and scour old bookstores, libraries, archives and museums.
I was also fascinated by Ms. Kostova’s description of regions and countries that I have rarely thought about, let alone visited, and I must say a heartfelt thanks for dragging me off to the combined nether regions of Europe and history.
Elizabeth Kostova is a wonderful storyteller and I was ready to believe most of what she showed me in The Historian. Being the cynic deep down inside though, I did find it hard to come to terms with such a young girl travelling the world in search of her father. I suspect it’s the “mother of teenagers” in me. Vlad was fully believable. That also could be the whole mother thing coming out.
I recommend obtaining a copy of The Historian, finding yourself a nice cosy corner and indulge in a few hours of adventurous historical fiction... no matter what time of day or night you prefer.