I found The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova at a used book sale. One of the many student organizations on campus was raising money. Usually all the books have already been picked over by the organization members (I don’t blame them. I’d do it too!), but I guess no one thought this one was interesting because I got it for $2. Not only did it end up being one of my new favorite vampire stories, but it’s a hardcover in near perfect condition with it’s original dust jacket.
My copy has 642 pages, and I savored every last one of them. The story is told from the perspective of the narrator’s father, Paul, after she finds an old book in his library. He explains how he received the book and the events that occurred involving the book, his adviser, Professor Rossi, and the narrator’s mother, Helen. Several other characters come into play along the way, and one of the things I love about this book is that there isn’t a single unnecessary person, event, or detail. The story requires all 642 pages.
Another major part of what makes this book so good is the setting descriptions. I always felt like I was wherever the characters were, even though I haven’t been to the majority of the countries they travel through. Also, this book might be the perfect one to read around this time of year because of the wonderful mouth watering food descriptions. If you’re already planning on eating a lot of food over the holidays, you might as well save yourself a few calories later by reading the book now, because it will make you feel ravenously hungry. It was a mistake for me to read it at night before I went to bed. The following quote was a prediction, and should have been my warning:
“My stomach ached with pleasure and my father said ruefully that he’d have to diet again when we returned to our ordinary lives.”
For a vampire story, it’s very light on vampires. There’s only one who occasionally shows up throughout most of the story, until the last 100 pages or so. It’s definitely not a Horror book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Gothic literature or a good Mystery/Thriller, even if you’re not a fan of vampires. I definitely recommend it to those who loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Also, this website has pictures of many of the places throughout the book, in order by chapter, in case you’d like to supplement your armchair travels.
3 thoughts on “Review: The Historian”
A good friend of mine just recommended this one to me after hearing I was reading Dracula! As a major foodie, the meal/eating descriptions just make me want to pick it up more. Thanks for the review!