The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Publisher/Year: Little, Brown and Company, 2005
Format: Mass market paperback
Pages: 909
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Breathtakingly suspenseful and beautifully written, The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family’s past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages. The search for the truth becomes an adventure of monumental proportions, taking us from monasteries and dusty libraries to the capitals of Eastern Europe–in a feat of storytelling so rich, so hypnotic, so exciting that it has enthralled readers around the world.

What I thought

Wow. Okay, where do I even start here? This is my second time reading The Historian and this time around it definitely cemented its place as one of my favorite books. I think what did it for me this time was that I was more patient–I embraced the slow read. That’s not to say that it was a boring read, but rather, I took some extra time to look up all of the various locations, as well as a rudimentary overview of the history involved. Those extra moments helped to make this story just THAT much more immersive. Kostova’s writing is so atmospheric and evocative as it is, it really was worth it to do a little extra research of my own.

Speaking of Kostova’s writing, I fell in love all over again. My copy is riddled with quotes that I underlined out of pure enjoyment. Her storytelling ability is incredible. For as long as my paperback copy is (900+ pages), I can’t say that I was ever bored. I wouldn’t call this a page turner–it was just that I got so drawn into the story and its rich complexity that the book didn’t FEEL like a long book. I genuinely enjoyed each time I sat down to read this. Despite all of the multiple story layers, I never found the plot hard to follow. Like I said, it just requires a little patience. It really is a great book for a long winter night.

As for the horror aspect, I will point out that although The Historian is more of a historical fiction novel than a “vampire novel,” it still left me feeling an overall sense of dread, especially after that ending. There were definitely a handful of times when I regretted reading this into the night. Having said that, The Historian is a literary, research-based, and research-driven novel, with just as much focus on history as on Dracula himself, so just be aware of that if you decide to pick this one up. This is definitely one of those novels for book lovers, but I venture to say that you also need to share a love of history to fully enjoy this, as well.

The Historian is not a flawless novel, by any means, but I was able to look past any flaws because I so completely enjoyed the experience of reading it. Between the immersive storytelling, the fascinating history that I just couldn’t stop discussing with my history-loving husband, and the fact that I know I won’t be able to stop thinking about this read for a while, The Historian ranks itself among my favorite books–one that I highly recommend if you are at all interested!