Musings From MommyLand

Because sometimes there is more to Mommy…

Book Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

on October 23, 2012

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought what better time to put up a review of a vampire book.  So here it is…a spoiler free review of “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova.

Jay got this book for me almost 5 years ago and I while I gave it a go shortly after this, I only made it about 4 chapters before it was relegated back to the “to read” pile.  The title really excited me (I was in the first blush of pursuing my graduate degree in history), but when I realized that it was a vampire novel, well those have never really been my thing.  I am more of a happy ending kind of girl.  Fast forward five years…Wow, my “to read” pile is literally like 5 feet tall.  If I don’t start reading some of these rather than adding to it by buying more books it could become a concussion hazard.  So a couple of months ago, I picked “The Historian” back up and I have to say, I am really glad that I did.

As I said, I don’t read a lot of vampire/dracula books…ok, none really…so I can’t really make a comparison  in mythology/approach to any other books, but it does seem like this one had a unique direction in that it brought history (Dracula and his connection to history) to the forefront (hence the title).

I am not going to lie, this is a large book and the first probably 10 chapters or so are pretty slow.  But, if you tough it out (what I didn’t do the first go around), you won’t be sorry you did.  I am not saying this the the best book I have ever read, but I did enjoy it.  And the reason I enjoyed as much as I did has to be because of the world travel and archive digging.  I am sucker for far away lands and this book definitely has that.  London, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Budapest all play prominently into the story and Kostovo does a good job of really taking you along for the ride.  And the archive/library digging in each place, well my four year old could write about that and I would probably enjoy it.  I am sort of a sucker for a musty dusty location chock full of documents and books hundreds of years old -even if it is only fiction.  And I also quite enjoyed Kostova’s discussion about Vlad the Impaler’s history which serves as the backbone of the plot.  I can’t say Medieval Eastern Europe was something I studied a great deal of so I can’t speak to the accuracy, but whether it was accurate or not, it was fascinating to read.

I have read mixed reviews of this book and there are things on each side with which I agree.  As I said before, it isn’t the best book I have ever read -probably not even in my top 20 or 30 – BUT, a book doesn’t have to be the best book ever to be entertaining and I am glad that I gave it another shot.    Let me put it this way, I stayed up until 2 am one weekend night to finish the last chapters which, if you have kids, you know that that in and of itself is a glowing recommendation.

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?


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