Elizabeth Kostova The Historian

ISBN 13: 9780751537284

The Historian

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9780751537284: The Historian
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Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to 'My dear and unfortunate successor'. Her discovery plunges 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 evil hidden in the depths of history.
In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright - a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, 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 captivating tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful - and utterly unforgettable.

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Review:

Some stories can be told again in endlessly different ways. Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian combines a search for the historical Dracula with a profound sense that Stoker got some things right--that the late Mediaeval tyrant kills among us yet, undead and dangerous. From Stoker, she also takes a sense that the supernatural seems more real when embedded in documentary evidence.

Three generations search for Dracula's resting place, and their stories are nested within each other, so that we know that at least two quests ended badly. Kostova rations her thrills very carefully so that we jump out of our chair at quite slight surprises, especially when we have come to expect buckets of blood and loud bangs. She also has a profound and well-communicated sense of place and period, so that the book is equally at home in 1930s Rumania, Cold War Budapest and 1970s Oxford. Kostova is particularly good on the sights and sounds of remote country places and the taste of real peasant food--this sensuous realism does not always go with her other skill, the creation of imagined documents and folksongs that feel as real and true as what might be actual.

This is a quietly good book rather than a spectacular debut, with some uncomfortable twists in its tail; her heroine-narrators are, and perhaps remain, in the most serious of jeopardies. ---Roz Kaveney

Review:

This literary thriller is a page-turner with brains (DAILY MAIL)

THE HISTORIAN amounts to something profound. . . and wondrously mathematical at times, a genre novel by Bach . . . We encounter obsession, possession, and the struggle against the brevity of life. It is an exploration of the eternal desire for intimacy. (THE TIMES)

The Historian is great fun. . . told with a compelling intensity which will keep the reader hooked until the last Undead tomb door swings shut (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

A gasp-inducing, breathtakingly dark mystery set in the present but wrapped around the folklore and history of Dracula...written in an exquisitely delicate and reserved style' (GOOD HOUSEKEEPING)

Filled with fascinating details of archaic vampire lore, the splendours of the Ottoman Empire and the beauty of the Romanian countryside (TLS)

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