Tuesday, June 8, 2010

review :: The Historian

Elizabeth Kostova

Intriguing. Compelling. Intricate. All three words describe The Historian. Elizabeth Kostova has created a fascinating blend of fact and fantasy, weaving the (true) historical roots of the living, breathing Vlad Dracula and the mythical persistent existence of the vampire legend.

There were some telling indications that this was a debut novel. I thought there were a few character flaws where some of the characters made some choices or actions that didn't quite seem to match up with who they really were. For example, the main female character, Helen, is a stiff, aloof, austere Eastern European. It seemed her warming up to Paul (the main male character), her receipt of his affections, and the return of her own was a bit abrupt for her reserved personality.

That aside, the complexity of the story was impressive. This is good storytelling, and it goes deep, layer after layer. I was interested to see how Kostova would draft a modern vampire story, and she did it well. It is not quite terrifying and graphic like Dracula, but nor is it trite, and there are definite moments to make one hold their breath.

Kostova packed this full-length novel with an amazing trail of history and travel across Eastern Europe, and she pulls it off without being too academic.

Overall, a great read, especially for anyone who finds the Dracula legend interesting. There were moments in the writing that I felt a real kinship with Kostova; I think our styles are similar, and that makes me want to read more of her. I'll definitely be picking up a copy of The Swan Thieves at some point in the near future.

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