The Historian

The Historian

A Novel

Book - 2005
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To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history....Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor," and they plunge 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 inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known-and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself-to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive. What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed-and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answers to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler's dark reign-and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions-and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vlad's ancient powers-one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. Elizabeth Kostova's debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions, a relentless tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present, with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful-and utterly unforgettable.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., [2005], ©2005
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316011778
0316011770
Branch Call Number: FICTION Kos
Description: x, 642 pages : 1 map ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

After a young woman finds a cache of letters in her late father's library, she goes on a pursuit to find the truth about Vlad the Impaler. As she journeys into the past through letters and documents, she discovers that her own past is intertwined with the history she is seeking.

A quietly creepy book about the search for the truth in the stories surrounding Vlad the Impaler.

A young woman discovers an ancient book and a cache of old letters in her father's library, and thus begins her adventurous quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, a search that will span continents and generations, and culminate in a confrontation with the darkest powers of evil.


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h
helen141
Oct 22, 2017

Read this book! Dracula, libraries, travel and history. One of the best written books I have read in a long time. I look forward to reading her other books. I have my own copy and it's a keeper.

i
isaachar
Oct 21, 2017

The author paints an amazing picture of the places in this book. The story is more haunting than horror, but it is well told. My only criticism of the story was that it came close to being a slog at times. There were parts of the 'chase' where the characters would go to a place and only find that what they are looking for isn't there, and they need to go to another place. A lot of 'Sorry Mario, but your princess is in another castle' moments, but with a grave instead of a princess. Which are ok the first few times, but 1/3rd of the book is this. Still, the author does a good job conveying the beauty of the various European settings. I also enjoyed the high level of 'meta' in this book. At certain points, you are reading [wait for it] the story of a woman telling a story of her father describing a story from the correspondence of his former professor's travels and memories of a guy telling him a story about the history of a specific part of Romania. That wasn't a run on sentence, the story of a story in another story perspective is standard throughout this book. That could be difficult to keep up with, but the author guides the reader through it well.

s
stewstealth
Mar 06, 2017

A very eloquent novel, very descriptive with good characterizations. Long at nearly 700 pages with a couple of slight logical inconsistencies, however, overall if you are interested it is worth reading. Just for the record, Vlad Tepes is considered a hero in Romania and they are pretty frustrated that he is constantly portrayed as a vampire.

l
LovieBooker
Feb 20, 2017

This is a story about a quest to find and destroy my favorite ghoul... Dracula. Kostova is adept at holding the reader's attention for 650 pages only to end with a flat and contrived conclusion. But, the bulk of the book is high adventure with just enough juicy horror thrown in.

t
tonyalanjeffers
Aug 18, 2016

This is the Librarian's vampire book. I've never read a book with so many libraries in it. It includes librarian vampires as well as librarian victims. It might easily have been named "The Librarian."
Like the father in the story I saw the old 1930s Dracula movies staring Bela Lugosi as a child; in my case on late night TV.
I was slightly younger than the girl in the story when I saw my first documentary about Prince Vlad the Impaler. It shocked and terrified me far more than the movie Dracula ever could have.
I didn't read Bram Stokers' Dracula until I was in my early 30s shortly after the movie of that name was released which I saw part of.
The Historian constantly refers to Stoker's classic work and makes some attempt to imitate the style with the letters much like Stoker's book appears to be reproductions of letters apparently sent back and forth by real people.
This is a great book for readers of all ages; but excellent for getting younger readers interested in history and classic literature.

r
rylee001
Jun 23, 2016

I'd rate this one six stars if I could, even with the abrupt ending. Maybe because I didn't really ever want it to end.

a
Amber L Moreno
Oct 01, 2015

A long, long, ramble through a few different accounts of the same event. If you're into love stories, you'll find a tame one here, but the star of The Historian is history itself. Vlad the Impaler is the central problem, to be solved by the intrepid scholar and his daughter. It's pieced together by way of letters and parchment and strange meetings. Don't start it if you're in a hurry, you're gonna be here a while.

sandy165 Jun 10, 2015

ots

l
LVM1000
Dec 24, 2014

A wonderful historical fiction, well-written and exciting. Yes, it's long and deeply detailed, but the overall experience is so worth it. Excellent scholarship, not just titillation for teenagers. However, even they might like it; I found the mercifully-brief romance thing tacked on at the end to be the least satisfying part, but I don't need (or even want) that in a book. This one really delves into Prince Vlad and the historical record for those of us whose interest long predated the Twilighters without being too scholarly and dry for its and Anne Rice's fans.

w
wilqser
Nov 18, 2014

Interesting take on the vampire story with lots of twists and turns- more of a mystery than a thriller. The story is a bit long -although well written -and the characters voices and taking us on various journeys can be confusing to some, but I thought it was cleverly written and full of excitement in their various locales. Clearly, the author knows her history of architecture and art. A good take on the vampire lore from the historian perspective. Would read her again if only for knowledge of aesthetics and clear writing. Good.

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LibrAimée
Nov 28, 2012

LibrAimée thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 13 and 99

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laurenemmeline
Feb 04, 2010

laurenemmeline thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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AnneDromeda Mar 22, 2012

I should own up to something right away: I am definitely one of those geeks fleshing out the market for vampire novels. I loved them when they were first in style, and Anne Rice was the queen of the genre. I kept the fire alive when pop culture became insufferably perky. Then, when *Twilight* brought vamps skulking back out, I could have chaired the Twi-hard fan club. In other words, when it comes to vamp lit, I suck. Happily. If you do, too, read on.<br />

Elizabeth Kostova's *The Historian* opens with a teen girl perusing her father's library. She finds a troubling bundle of letters tucked into a book, all addressed “To my dear and unfortunate successor.” It's immediately plain her father (Paul) has been drawn into something unsavoury. After confronting her father, she's enveloped in a world of danger, intrigue, and glamorous academia.<br />

Parallel plot lines pull the reader through a whirlwind tour of post-WWII Turkey, England, Romania and Hungary. Kostova has done her research on these many locales, and her descriptions of place and culture ring true (her depictions of communist Romania and Hungary are particularly entrancing). One plot line follows Paul's initial discovery of Vlad Dracula's continued existence, and the mad search for his mentor after Rossi's abduction by Dracula. Another follows the heroine's own desperate attempt to save her father's life, 20 years later.<br />

In essence, *The Historian* is the Indiana Jones of vampire literature. Exquisitely researched and relentlessly paced, it features lots of travel, classic romance, gory history, and battles in crypts. Kostova has gone out of her way to put the monster back into vampires – no synthetic blood or sparkling in the sunshine, here. Her Dracula owes much more to Eastern European vampire folklore than to glam goth culture. And, if we use monsters in literature to exorcise what makes us most uneasy as a culture, it's worth noting that almost every vampire encountered is a librarian. If Stoker's vampires were working out cultural sex taboos, Kostova's express a deep unease with the use and transmission of information. This debut novel is highly recommended to fans of vamp lit, and to any historical fiction readers open to supernatural elements.

notTom Dec 16, 2010

An old, leather-bound book, blank except for an illustration of a dragon over the word "Drakulya" in the center is the catalyst of this suspenseful novel. When a woman finds letters in her father's library addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor", her father relates his story of mysteriously finding an old book in a university library and the subsequent disappearance of his mentor, launching him into an epic quest to discover not only the whereabouts of his mentor, but of the grave of Vlad Dracula himself. When her father then disappears, the woman decides to follow his trail that leads only to true evil. In a galloping novel that criss-crosses Europe, vampires cease to become legend and folktale, but become dark and cunning every-day creatures, always lurking just around the corner.

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