The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova...Dracul...Not Dracula...A Review!


 "To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history...."

 Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor," and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of—a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known—and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself—to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed—and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answers to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler's dark reign—and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions—and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vlad’s ancient powers—one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. Elizabeth Kostova's debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions, a relentless tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present, with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful—and utterly unforgettable.


 Reading The Historian is like meeting the offspring of Dan Brown and Bram Stoker! Let me explain…
 Vlad III Dracul (Vlad the Impaler)

At the beginning of The Historian, none of the characters believe in vampires. Even though the characters are rational people: historians and academics!  Slowly, as they dig deeper into the history of Vlad the Impaler, what they find is that Bram Stoker may have just gotten the facts a little bit wrong.  And this is when we all start to get just a little frightened. 

What if Vlad the Impaler knew how to cheat death but took the answer with him to his grave? 

 His Order of the Dragon held the Ottoman Turks at bay when no one could. Vlad held power in Wallachia (modern day Romania), several times during the course of his life. Elizabeth Kostova presents the history of his life in a way that seems to be true; including the discrepancy about his final resting place. What if his descendents were secretly marked with a dragon tattoo? Thus preserving his lineage for some dark purpose?

The nameless female narrator looks back on her adventures as a budding young historian unraveling the mysterious history of Vlad the Impaler. He is the one widely credited as the true life inspiration for the Dracula legend that Bram Stoker popularized. When the narrator shows a strange book she has found to her historian father, he quickly reveals that he has some knowledge of it, and that it relates directly to Dracula.

Her father’s secret obsession with Vlad the Impaler began decades earlier. He and his academic adviser also had some very strange experiences. Then his adviser disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Leaving her father to disappear as well; not before putting pen to paper and recording his own quest to uncover the truth about Dracula. So the narrator sets off with another historian buddy to find her father, while reading his story of journeying to find his adviser decades before.

Who’s following whom? How many foreign countries do they travel to and what happens to them? There is quite a lot of intrigue, drama, history and familial love to keep the reader engaged. Not to mention Elizabeth Kostova’s very impressive writing. You are immediately compelled to travel with these interesting people to see what in the world is going on and how many vampires will I meet along the way? 

I was very impressed with Kostova’s cogent writing of the Turkish and Romanian Dracul (dragon) family history of Vlad the Impaler juxtaposed against Bram Stoker’s fictional world of his vampire Dracula. It was very refreshing reading.  A knowledge of international history is not needed to read The Historian. However, it does help to get the jokes the author provides! Also, the positive and loving father daughter relationship that Kostova weaves throughout the novel to support the various plots and intrigue just made me want to read on!

I highly recommend a different take on not only the cinema Dracula we have been used to but Vlad the Impaler is quite the man! If you want a fun time, don’t hesitate to pick this one up!

Please feel free to leave any comments,



Anonymous said…
I just loved this book when I read it. Your great review brought it all back! I heard a rumor there making a movie? It should be fun! Maggie
Anonymous said…
I bought this book but have not read it. Now I am. I have been waiting for someone like you to review it. LOL! It's been laid at the third from the top of my TRP! Thanks for such a good review.

(Oh, yikes, not I've got to prove I am not a robot with the new word verification)
Kimberly Eve said…
Thanks for reading and commenting on my review.
Anonymous said…
You got some folks motivated to read the book! Cudos to you! As always, a review well done. gigigirl
Kimberly Eve said…
Thanks for commenting gigigirl!
I don't know about motivating
anyone but thanks for the
compliment and for stopping by!