"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 ofa 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 knownand 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
herselfto 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 existedand 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 reignand about a
time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the
Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the
fabric of medieval monastic traditionsand evading the unknown adversaries
who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vlad's ancient powersone
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 suspensefuland utterly unforgettable.
Certainly there are many moments of tension and an overwhelming sense of impending dread, but Kostova doesn't stoop to the methodology used by so many modern thriller writers - short chapters, each ending with a breathless cliff-hanger forcing the pulse-rate up and, more often than not, the credibility down. Instead we get a challenging, substantial novel that many serious readers will love. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Washington Post - Michael Dirde
...Elizabeth Kostova has produced an honorable summer book, reasonably well written and enjoyable and, most important of all, very, very long: One can tote The Historian to the beach, to the mountains, to Europe or to grandmother's house and still be reading its 21st-century coda when Labor Day finally rolls around.
Library Journal - Patricia Altner
The writing is excellent, and the pace is brisk, although it sags a bit in the middle. There is plenty of suspense so that readers will want to find out what happens next. Ten years in the writing, this debut is recommended for readers who enjoy arcane literary puzzles la Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Ian Caldwell's The Rule of Four.
Starred Review. Exotic locales, tantalizing history, a family legacy and a love of the bloodthirsty: it's hard to imagine that readers won't be bitten, too.
Booklist - Michael Gannon
Starred Review. Readers who think the legend of Dracula has become a trite staple of schlock fiction will find this atmospheric page-turner by first-time author Kostova a bloodthirsty delight. ...Both literary and scary, this one is guaranteed to keep one reading into the wee hours--preferably sitting in a brightly lit room and wearing a garlic necklace.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by JG Ulmer The Historian - Excellent reading Of the countless books and novels I have read, both fiction and non-fiction, I felt this was exceptionally well written. It was both an adventure in history and well told tale. For someone who loves history, geography, fiction and non-fiction -... Read More
Rated of 5
by Ian The Historian Of the hundreds of books I have read this is easily the most poorly written. The ideas are derivative like so many of the books which float in the wake of Dan Brown. There's evidence of a lot of research but the attitude seems to be 'I've worked... Read More
Rated of 5
by avidreader Too wordy, chopped up, language, just plain boring I have never stopped reading a book before, but in this case it was justified. I tried reading it over a period of 2 weeks, but found it way too difficult to follow. Didn't know if it was the father or daughter speaking. Too much italics which... Read More
Rated of 5
by Yogamom The Historian Loved it, loved it so much I read it every summer over a few days. Only other books I do that with are "Rebecca" and " Pride and Predjudice" good company. Loved the time period changes, voice changes and lovely description of a... Read More
Rated of 5
by Michelle The Historian The book was recommended to me by a friend and I absolutely loved it, I thought the length and detail were fantastic. Ms. Kostova really made the story believable and well written. There was fantasy within the story line that touched so closely to... Read More
Rated of 5
by Gillian The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova This excellent book has been spoiled for me by too many errors. For example, page 189 Dr. Turgut is described as having a silver mustache & a mane of silver hair yet on page 209 when the couple meet him the next morning he now has 'curly dark... Read More
Elizabeth Kostova (née Johnson) was born
in New London, Connecticut in 1964, and now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
She graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan where
she won the Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress. The Historian
took her ten years to write, and
was inspired by the vampire
stories told to her by her
father, a professor of urban
planning, during the year they
spent in Ljubljana, capital of
Slovenia (where her father
taught at the university) when
she was seven, and as they
traveled through Europe.
She says, "I wondered whether this would make a good structure for a
novel .... At the end of each of these tales, the young listener realizes that
Dracula himself is listening to the story. Then I got the chills and immediately
began working on the book." When asked about her personal beliefs she
confirms that she does not
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