Reader reviews and comments on The Historian, plus links to write your own review.

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The Historian

by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 656 pages
    Oct 2006, 688 pages

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There are currently 70 reader reviews for The Historian
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Mr. Dark (04/14/09)

Well, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. If you ask me, there's really not an awful lot to say. I was basically forced to read this book, all because I was surrounded in a society of Twilight fangirls that basically said "It's about vampires. It's thick. Let's read it!" so, you can predict my lack of enthusiasm from the very beginning. Despite this, it would still be incorrect to say that I was biased at any time, as I didn't fully know what to expect. Thus my reading began. Took me a couple of weeks to finish it. Wasn't incredibly hard to put it down afterward. The main problem with this book is its never-ending attempts to appear "plausible". I understand it fits into the story's theme about historians and factuality, but truly, it feels awkward reading like this in a novel with mostly fictional, baseless events. True, there is a load of text which could basically be interpreted as a history lesson on the war between Dracula and the Ottoman empire, but that doesn't necessarily improve the story's quality in any sense. On the plot itself, due to its tendency to add up tiny bits of story progress from each of the gazillion locations, it feels weak in more than one sense. More awkward moments come from when the context decides to throw a sudden romance straight at the reader. This, mixed with the multiple plotline dispersion (a rather poorly organized aspect) and the overall weakness of the plot, makes it seem more desperate than anything else. Another of the main motifs, the presence of vampires, is unbelievably underwhelming. Aside from Dracula, there is no more than ONE potentially dangerous vampire in the book. More additions to the letdown include opinions on descriptions with absolutely no relevance to the plot or theme, lack of clarity on several elements, constant dispersion and fault to keep consistency, some poorly constructed story arcs.

On the plus side, though, the book was a half-good piece of info dinner for anyone with an interest on dracula or vampire myths, and at least the plot manages to hold together throughout the length of the story. Regardless of one's interest in reading it, it feeds its reader some curious data on medieval europe that may seem interesting to the cultivated, along with the aforementioned mythical elements.

Overall, it's passable. Can't really focus too much on the negative or positive aspects, because they practically eat each other up. I believe that's the best way to describe it in a nutshell Well, this has been my personal review. Signing out for now.
CindyE (02/20/09)

Save yourself the time and trouble
I read this novel despite my bosses warning that she was bored and kept waiting for something to happen. She and I are extremely avid readers of all types of novels. I am ever optimistic and rarely do I ever not finish a book once I begin one. I can usually find something redeeming about any novel. After reading the pages of sparkling reviews I thought there has to be something my boss just missed. After all, I do love to savor a good detailed read more than many. I was wrong. There is nothing thrilling, terrifying, contemporary or compelling about this novel. All words used to describe this novel by reviewers I can certainly believe that the book took ten years to write as I felt that it seemed to take that long to read. I literally forced myself to finish it trying for the life of me to figure out what anyone could find remotely scary about it. It was plodding, dated, boring and deeply in need of a skilled editor. Bram Stoker's Dracula to which the author frequently refers, has a more contemporary feel than this novel. I can't keep from asking myself who this author is related to and how much the publisher paid people to write the positive reviews. I really feel that this book was slipped out to capitalize on the success of currently popular historical-geographical thrillers and the equally current vampire craze. I am definitely glad that I didn't pay to read this borefest but felt sorry that my boss did. Please take my advice and save yourself from the Historian.
Kim (01/17/09)

The Best!
I read this book several years ago and still wish I was in the process of reading it. I miss it. This book was hands down the best book I've ever read. I can't believe the negative reviews! Thoroughly enjoyed it and I have recommended it to a handful of my friends. Can't wait for the movie and can't wait for her next book.
Bruce Sykes (12/31/08)

The Historian, sorry to see it end
Although a little slow at times, this is written with detail that any scholar will love. I was so sorry to reach the end. It was fun to read and hard to put down. More lore like this needs to be written..
Anthony William Richardson (11/23/08)

The Historian is in all regards the BEST NOVEL I HAVE EVER READ! I have recommended it to all of my friends who have all loved it!!!!!! WE WANT MORE NOVELS FROM Elizabeth Kostova!
Wanda Pereira (11/04/08)

Predictable yet interesting suspense...
I just finished reading the book...It seems quite informative from a historical point of view, that is, if we are to believe the facts as they are given to us...however...wider knowledge or a little research may cause that to be tricky.
Quite frankly, although the story picks up quite boringly in the beginning, it reveals some interesting suspense as it unfolds.
In general, the expansive and surprising details give wings to imagination, yet at some points, they become considerably redundant and almost annoying...
Also annoying are the dorky "sudden deaths" of several scenes, which due to their blunt abruptness almost seem like a pure lack of inspiration...
As for the characters, I found them quite typical and almost common from the perspective of good versus evil...and repetitive when it comes to their personalities and overal attitude towards the supernatural...the same applies to the entwined love stories...thus undermining credibility...
The pieces that form the "main puzzle" are keenly hidden throughout the book, yet the "perceptive reader" will most definately and easily find them predictable...
I expected it to be more stimulating intellectually and would only recommend it as a "last on the shelf" kind of book...
Sorry Mrs. Kostova!
Ciganita (10/25/08)

Excelent book
Definitely one of the books of my life,from page one. Left me longing for more when I finished it and every time I reread it , new unnoticced details (aesthetic and factual) give me the thrill, emotion and suspense I felt on the first time I read it.
Donna Berk (07/03/08)

The Historian
Being a fan of the "typical" vampire book in the genre of Anne Rice or Stephen King, I found this journey from the narrator's personal perspectives through her parents' (historians) examination of history and their supposed personal experiences very intriguing and believable. I really enjoyed the very organized trip the book took me on for the search through Eastern Europe with real descriptions of the geography and the people and their folklore. Very well constructed, organized, and believable novel. I will look forward to Ms. Kostova's next book.
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