The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

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Rate: 4.5/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers): I’ve been following Sylvain Neuvel, the author of Sleeping Giants, on social media ever since his debut novel. Multiple times he has led me to discovering new novels through posting links of intriguing book lists that typically sound right up my alley with regard to genre. A few weeks ago he posted one such list that focused on fantasy books, which employ “letters, reports, emails, interviews and files as a method of storytelling” and world building,  where among the novels listed The Historian caught my interest. The Historian is a fascinating mix of academic research, old libraries/books, and Dracula, recounted through a mixture of present day adventure commingled with old letters and ancient text/books. My scientific soul loved the emphasis that was placed on research in this novel, although I found myself smiling at the unrealistic turnaround time and key discoveries, which the main players would confidently stumble upon by opening the nearest available an old text. Also, as this book was based in a time period just prior to the internet being used to search find research articles, it made me have a new appreciation for the tools I have at my fingertips to look up topics or terms pertaining to a topic of interest within minutes, if not seconds, instead of hours scouring the library manually. Overall, the mystery, intrigue and danger weaved together in this storyline will quickly draw the reader in, leaving them on the edge of their seats as tales from the adventure/research of three scholars at different time periods are intertwined over the shared topics regarding the existence of Dracula, along with the subsequent the tragedy that touches all of their lives once embarking on this dangerous research. Of note, the final showdown and conclusion felt rather rushed in comparison to the detail oriented, deliberate development and lead up. With that being said though, I couldn’t read The Historian fast enough!


Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Why didn’t Dracula go after Helen when she was searching him?
  • What happened to the contaminated Oxford librarian who kept showing up at the most inopportune times?
  • What happened to the narrator’s love interest after his Professor’s death at the end of the book/fight with Dracula?
  • What happened to Turgut Bora? Did Paul ever see him again? Did Paul’s daughter ever meet him?
  • Who left the book for Paul’s daughter at the end of the story? Did Dracula survive?
  • After Helen came back did they find her family again?
  • Did Dracula know that Helen was a decadent? Is there more significance to the dragon tattoo? Perhaps it hides her from Dracula. Did Paul’s daughter get a dragon tattoo?
  • The most important question: What happened to Dracula’s library?

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26 comments

  1. Definitely a great read! I read this several years ago and it’s been in my short pile to reread again soon. I remember it as being very well-paced and plotted, intriguing, and with well-crafted characters.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The big part for me was the opening up of eastern Europe. The book got me poring over maps, following journeys.
    Yup, the showdown was a … disaster.
    What happened to the library? Why, it’s hidden in the new place between two great cities.
    Middle East, do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for liking my book review!! Would you mind leaving me some constructive criticism in the comments? I know it’s not the best review and I want to write a better one next time 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I own a copy of the book. What I recall most vividly about this book is the gloominess it created in my mind. From describing the life behind the iron curtain to the library of the Dracula, the emotions were dark and gloomy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve just finished reading The Historian and i’m around 130 (ish) pages from finishing Stoker’s Dracula. I was actually really surprised that the Oxford Librarian wasn’t mentioned towards the end and I felt as though Helen and Paul’s love story towards the end of the book was slightly half-hearted and rushed. The only explanation I can think of in regards to your question is a kind of philosophical approach; Maybe the reason that the author (presumably) left all of these questions unanswered is an accurate reflection on the mystery that is presented around the ‘burial’ of Vlad’s body. It could be a case of ‘some thing are better left unanswered’.

    Overall I really loved your review and literally couldn’t agree more :D.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! 🙂

      I’m glad you liked The Historian! I really need to make an effort to read Dracula. It is one of the new books that I’ve never finished. I was probably only 150 or so pages from the end too!

      Like

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