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Like another reviewer, I was surprised by the number of reviews complaining about this book's size. I found the book a compelling journey, and one that had me completely enthralled. The arid, almost academic way it was written in parts made it even more chilling - it felt as if it were real, as if one could retrace their journey and find exactly the things they found (so much so that I found I could not read it when I was alone in the house).
A DaVinci Code Ripoff`
The magic of this book was in the detail, in the way Kostova subtly unwound the plot. I read it last year, and even now it still resonates. I have recommended it to my bookclub, nearly all of whom have now read it, and found it deliciously disturbing. To answer the critics who have given it a 2, if you're going to compare it to the horror genre, it will not fit as easily as you might like. But then why should it - it's not a horror, but rather a gothic, literary quest. And one well worth taking part in.
This book lacks the intense interest of the Da Vinci Code, and pretends to be the same style. I think it is bogus. There is too much myth, and not enough reality. I am not a reader of fiction, and so maybe my opinion is jaundiced. However, I found it to be less than satisfying. Would not recommend it to serious historians.
If you don't like long books, don't read this one. But if you're a patient reader and like a plot that unwinds slowly and grippingly, this may be for you. Perhaps I particularly enjoyed it because in Romania I have walked through the Dracula castle several times at the close of day just as darkness descended and the stairway and upper rooms took on a particular gloom; a definitely creepy experience...(also, one day saw a workman outside fixing a pathway; he had just dug up a small part part of a skeleton and casually tossed aside several finger bones). ~The Historian is presented to appear believable; the author admits to mixing fact and fantasy in her brew. I wouldn't have missed this book, shivers and all.
I'm shocked by the range of reviews for this book. It's really quite entertaining and well written too. As a Balkan historian, I am impressed with the girth and accuracy of the history woven throughout The Historian. It is indeed biased to a western perspective but regardless one must remember that this book is a novel, ie for entertainment purposes first and foremost. I was entranced by Kostova from page one and was very sad to finish. I hope she writes much more!
I'm not sure why so many reviewers have complained about the page length. The point isn't to see how many novels one can read and how quickly. Novels are simply for entertainment and the longer the better! If a book isn't entertaining then put it down and get something else-- there's plenty to choose from, don't waste your leisure time. Why read an entire novel and be displeased with it?
Although horror isn't my usual genre (much is poorly written and plots are creaky) the reputation of this book as a literary take on horror convinced me to read it. It was a real slog. The plot dragged, the book needed an editor (cut 200 plus pages perhaps?) and it was also poorly written. Although less pretentious, I think Anne Rice does this genre better, as does Bram Stoker himself. Also, George R.R. Martin, not primarily a horror writer, has a great vampire novel. Also check out Tanith Lee's Sabella - scary and convincing.
Kostova's writing is difficult to enjoy, exceeding 600 impenetrable pages. Rather than turn a phrase, she belabors them. While I enjoy this genre of fiction (I have read and immensely enjoyed all of Anne Rice's works), I forced myself to finish this book, expecting it to improve. But it did not. It is a laborious read, that put me to sleep every night. Not since I read Ulysses as a college freshman have I worked so hard to finish a novel. Sadly, its reading was not worth my effort.
I would not want to read it again. After the first chapter you hope it will become more interesting but it just seems to be the same the whole way through, although there were one or two interesting chapters. To many loose ends, not enough structure and far too long!
Best Since Bram
Some years ago I picked up an unabridged version of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and was totally fascinated by the imaginative horror created. I've reread "Dracula" several times, and had yet to find a novel that came close to the atmosphere and suspense, until reading "The Historian". The story is mesmerising in parts, though frustratingly pedantic in others. But regardless, you just don't want to 'skip' the storyline as it all hangs together so well. I'll be revisiting the story in the near future without doubt and recommend the book to anyone who enjoys the vampire Genre. (I also recommend "I AM LEGEND" by Richard Matheson - an excellent twist on vampier versus human).