Gabby Raines, August 15, 2008 (view all comments by Gabby Raines)
The Historian is an intelligently written book and beautifully intertwines fact, fiction, and the Dracula mythos that leaves the reader guessing and wanting more.
This was the first book in a while that I did not want to end even as I wanted to see how it finished.
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Sue Fisher, April 25, 2008 (view all comments by Sue Fisher)
I LOVE to read, so when my fellow reader-friend gave me this I was a bit irritated that it started so slowly. Soon, however, you really just CANNOT stop reading. Seriously--you cannot stop. And you change your mind about who the historian is many times -- right up to the last page. (And you realize WHY it starts the way it does...) Exceptional story, great history and beautifully written. A page-turner with style and intellect!
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Rebekah, March 10, 2007 (view all comments by Rebekah)
After reading this book, I felt inspired to read lots of history, about Eastern Europe and Turkey in particular. That effect is nifty considering Kostova's romantic view of the historian's discipline. Yes, the book deals with vampires. Also, the plot spans many countries, cultural backgrounds, and perspectives on the value of history in modern life. Not only did this novel treat me to a page-turning, dark, vampire adventure, it also, secretly, taught a real philosophy of history.
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Back Bay Books -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Considering the recent rush of door-stopping historical novels, first-timer Kostova is getting a big launch — fortunately, a lot here lives up to the hype. In 1972, a 16-year-old American living in Amsterdam finds a mysterious book in her diplomat father's library. The book is ancient, blank except for a sinister woodcut of a dragon and the word 'Drakulya,' but it's the letters tucked inside, dated 1930 and addressed to 'My dear and unfortunate successor,' that really pique her curiosity. Her widowed father, Paul, reluctantly provides pieces of a chilling story; it seems this ominous little book has a way of forcing itself on its owners, with terrifying results. Paul's former adviser at Oxford, Professor Rossi, became obsessed with researching Dracula and was convinced that he remained alive. When Rossi disappeared, Paul continued his quest with the help of another scholar, Helen, who had her own reasons for seeking the truth. As Paul relates these stories to his daughter, she secretly begins her own research. Kostova builds suspense by revealing the threads of her story as the narrator discovers them: what she's told, what she reads in old letters and, of course, what she discovers directly when the legendary threat of Dracula looms. Along with all the fascinating historical information, there's also a mounting casualty count, and the big showdown amps up the drama by pulling at the heartstrings at the same time it revels in the gruesome. Exotic locales, tantalizing history, a family legacy and a love of the bloodthirsty: it's hard to imagine that readers won't be bitten, too. Agent, Amy Williams. 325,000 first printing; major ad/promo; 10-city author tour. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Laura Miller, Salon.com,
"The Historian isn't especially scary (though Kostova can work up a respectable miasma of dread when needed), and it lacks the inane but breathless chase scenes of The Da Vinci Code, but for the sophisticated reader it's a fine Bordeaux to Dan Brown's overcaffeinated Diet Coke....The big difference is that, unlike Brown's nattering cardboard people, by the end of Kostova's novel, the girl and the mother she lost as an infant have also become people worth caring about, tragic figures enmeshed with a treacherous past. That makes The Historian a thriller in more ways than one." (read the entire Salon.com review)
by Los Angeles Times,
"Kostova handles the logistics of multiple story lines well, though unfortunately her narrators all speak in the same hyper-descriptive, overwrought prose....Even if this thriller fails to thrill, [certain] moments...show Kostova to be a writer at home in the world: a rare and welcome thing."
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"Readers who think the legend of Dracula has become a trite staple of schlock fiction will find this atmospheric page-turner...a bloodthirsty delight....Both literary and scary, this one is guaranteed to keep one reading into the wee hours..."
by Janet Maslin, The New York Times,
"[A] ponderous, many-layered book that is exquisitely versed in the art of stalling....Only occasionally does the book deliver the kind of jolt that explains its prematurely inflated reputation."
by USA Today,
"Kostova may have outdone Stoker or even, for that matter, Hollywood's numerous Dracula reincarnations with her chilling revelation of what motivates her blood-thirsty monster. Before the sun sets, grab this book and take a long and satisfying drink."
by Denver Post,
"Surpass[es] The Da Vinci Code in almost every aspect....It is an atmospheric thriller with an improbable-but-plausible plot, exotic locations, multidimensional characters and an engaging style that unobtrusively hooks and then reels in the reader."
by The Washington Post,
"The Historian is artfully constructed and atmospheric, yet nothing that happens in it is really all that surprising. Still, Elizabeth Kostova has produced an honorable summer book, reasonably well written and enjoyable and...very, very long..."
by The Baltimore Sun,
"[O]ne terrific and fascinating read....[A] must-read for anyone with even a pretense to loving the genre. Kostova's debut is indeed auspicious and the news that she is working on a second novel is welcome."
by Library Journal,
"The writing is excellent, and the pace is brisk, although it sags a bit in the middle. There is plenty of suspense so that readers will want to find out what happens next."
by Henry Alford, The New York Times Book Review,
"What's unfortunate about this [romanticizing of historians] is that the book...is otherwise the kind of wonderfully paced yarn that would make a suitable companion to a deck chair, a patch of sun and some socklessness."
by Chicago Tribune,
"The Historian is intriguing for its thorough examination of what constitutes evil and why it exists....Kostova's thorough research and lively narrative will compel many in search of a good story, richly told and not soon forgotten."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"[A] late-night page-turner that will be sure to make you lose some precious hours of sleep....Anyone who loves to become involved in the lives of fictional characters will find much to savor in this intricately plotted, delicately written novel."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"There's a really terrific vampire story buried somewhere in The Historian....There is indeed a rich payoff if you persist through the slow parts. But then again, this is a frigging vampire novel. There shouldn't be slow parts. (Grade: B)"
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