Late one night in 1972, as a 16-year-old girl, she discovers a mysterious book and a sheaf of letters in her father’s library — a discovery that will have dreadful and far-reaching consequences, and will send her on a journey of mind-boggling danger. While seeking clues to the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s puzzling disappearance, she follows a trail from London to Istanbul to Budapest and beyond, and learns that the letters in her possession provide a link to one of the world’s darkest and most intoxicating figures. Generation after generation, the legend of Dracula has enticed and eluded both historians and opportunists alike. Now a young girl undertakes the same search that ended in the death and defilement of so many others — in an attempt to save her father from an unspeakable fate.
As you all know, I only use a 5-star rating system, but every now and again, I come across a book that deserves just a little extra. After reading Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian for the second time, I am still convinced it will always and forevermore be one of my favorite books.
What’s funny about this book and my intense love of it, is that it generally has a bit of everything that makes me crazy when reading. The Historian is hugely long, it is filled with bunny trails, and details beyond all reason or necessity. Yet, I loved every page, followed every bunny trail happily, and soaked up every minute, crazy detail from start to finish. The Historian isn’t a story or a simple narrative, but a sweeping tale that takes the reader across time and the world, through history, through faith, through death and they beyond.
The Historian is narrated by several voices, all of whom are educated, intuitive, inquisitive, and, often, quite scared of the events unfolding around them. What’s more, each has been brought unwittingly into the search for an historical figure, a demented and evil figure who has endured through the ages as a myth of epic proportions. Unfortunately, for all involved, the myth isn’t a myth at all, but a livingish being with nefarious plans for those intrepid enough to track him down. Tracking this figure isn’t an easy task and though many have gotten close through the years, most have given up because of fear.
As events play out, the group currently involved in the search are among the cleverest ever assembled. But, assembled isn’t quite the right word as the current search has stretched over a minimum of two decades. Each member has a certain amount of knowledge related to the search and is wary of sharing too much with friends, colleagues, and loved ones for fear of putting them all in harm’s way. Through a series of conversations, both current and recounted, and a plethora of letters and communications, the search for the evil undead unfolds for the reader. The letters, the documents, the conversations all pull the reader further into the search just as the characters are pulled in. With each new revelation, each new discovery, the tension and danger become even more palpable.
The Bottom Line: I have now actively read and listened to this book twice and will most certainly do so again in the future. Hands down and without doubt, The Historian is my favorite vampire book of all time across all genres. While I would generally balk at the length and amount of detail, I soaked it all up with this book and willingly followed every path, every new lead, and every strange twist and turn. The writing is eloquent and exciting, and the characters and plot are absolutely engrossing! With both the physical book and the audio, I found myself lost in the story and often forcing myself to stop reading/listening. With all the gushing out of the way, I will absolutely acknowledge, this book isn’t for everyone and I can’t see it being anything less than a love it or hate it situation. There isn’t going to ever be an in between as you can clearly see from the overall star rating.