Monday, May 16, 2011

The Historian - Book Review

Because of several recommendations, I ordered and decided to read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It was long--just over 600 pages--but the promise of an exciting tale involving Dracula sounded so intriguing, I figured it would still be a quick read. Besides, I rarely shy away from a long book.

It was really long. I started reading the book before Easter and just finished it last week. There was just enough exciting plot development to keep me interested and I kept reading. I have to be completely fair and say that my malfunctioning brain (lack of thyroid medication--I'll write more about that later) probably played a large role in my frustration with the book. Also, I was reading a hardback copy of the book and it was very heavy. I love an actual book but I think this is a time when a electronic reader might have made the reading experience more pleasurable.

After finding a mysterious ancient book in her father's study, a young woman learns more about her father's studies of Dracula, the very famous and apparently very real vampire. Then, her father disappears and despite the very real peril, she sets out to find him.

Elizabeth Kostova is a talented and brilliant writer and this book is jammed packed with historical information and legend regarding the undead. Every detail is fully described. Much of the information is told through letters, documents and second-hand tales which slows down the action but is realistic as to an academic study of a subject. Every now and then something exciting and/or frightening would actually happen as the characters had a brush with a vampire and it would compel me to continue reading the book. The last 200 or so pages of the book were especially exciting and made the entire book worth reading. When I only had 75 pages left to go, I had to wonder how everything could actually be resolved in such a short space, but the ending is absolutely satisfactory.

I am not a fan of the current genre of vampire books, as you know, but I really did end up enjoying The Historian. Dracula is a terrifying creature in life and in death. Now, I'm inspired to get my hands on a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula.


Megan said...

I read the Historian a while back. I got very bogged down in it because of the overwhelming detail. You very politely say "Every detail is fully described." I thought the exact same thing, except I would have said "She couldn't stand to edit out a single piece of research she did." I made it through in the end, but only because I felt like I had committed so much time to it that I couldn't give up on it. I'm definitely not interested in reading anything else she writes, unless she manages to find a really strong editor.

Laura@livingabigstory said...

Sounds like a good book (and I despise the current vampire craze too ... yeah! somebody else!)

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

I love learning history when I read. Maybe the details would be enjoyable for me. I also have thyroid issues (Graves disease). :)

Booklogged said...

I remember really liking this book when I read it a few years ago. And like you I hate the whole vampire craze. I few books were okay but enough already! After finishing The Historian I read Dracula and liked it. You'll be happy to know that it is much shorter than The Historian.