The Historian

Holy shit! This book–The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova–is extraordinary. I wasted my whole day curled up on the couch reading it. When the Butcher came home I told him he had to not talk to me until I could finish the last three pages.

I want to high-five Kostova. This book is so good. Over at Goodreads, I see some folks think it’s ponderous. I can only assume those people have no taste.

I want to tell you all the things I love about this book, but I don’t want to spoil a single thing.

Let me just say that, if the world is a haunted house and Dracula one of its ghosts, Kostova seems to come to the same conclusion I do about haunted houses. And so the ending is delicious. It’s just exactly right.

Man, it’s beautiful.

I am so jealous.

10 thoughts on “The Historian

  1. I’m not a big fan of fantasy or gothic fiction but this book was spectacular, I was sad to see it end!

  2. Me, too. I want to live in the feeling that book gave me for as long as possible. When she got her dragon book at the end, I was just like “Yes!” I mean, I felt like Dracula was a terrible person… um… unperson, but she did a great job of making him incredibly interesting and I would have been 85% relieved and 15% sad if he’d really died.

  3. I loved that book so much. So very very much. I read it straight through, sitting on the top step of my parents’ pool until it got dark and I had to finish it on the couch indoors.

  4. I thought the religious issues were handled really well, too. Dracula seemed “Christian” in a way I could believe an evil dude would consider himself thus. And I felt like the portrayals of Eastern Europe were well-done.

  5. I was floored by how much I liked it. Every review I read when it came out tried to make it into some kind of good retelling of Dracula, which just didn’t interest me. But it is kind of a good retelling of Dracula, like if Bram Stoker had ever been to eastern Europe or Constantinople. So, I guess you can’t say the reviews aren’t honest, but they somehow miss the beauty of it.

    Plus, it’s kind of a historian’s wet dream. There are secret maps and tell-tale folk songs and mysterious wood-cuts and academic intrigue and lots of libraries.

  6. What B says is perfect. It’s just_real_. Like “I can see this being an actual historical novel about the real person of Vlad Dracul”.

    And I LOVED the “Dracula Christianity”. Deborah Harkness has made her vampire a Christian as well but I don’t know that she’s making as good a case for it over the long haul.

    NM, I think you would enjoy it very much. It’s one of those books that I was very much “I’m not reading that” until I gave in and picked it up at D-K before a long trip to my parents. It was the book that I meant to have last me 3-4 days. It lasted from 6am until 1am.

  7. I’m captivated by this discussion. I, too, had the book firmly on the to-be-shunned list for some inexplicable reason. I just got an idea that I wouldn’t like it; a reviewer I trusted may’ve hated it or some such. But I’m eager to read it if it’s as good as you all say, since your (collective) standards are so high.

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