Thursday, February 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Title: The Historian
Written by: Elizabeth Kostova
Published: June 14, 2005 by Little, Brown Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history....Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor," and they plunge 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 inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history. 

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself--to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive. What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answers to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler's dark reign and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

I have been wanting to do this review for so long and for some reason I have not gotten around to it. This is one of my all-time favorite books and I read it years ago and just before I really started blogging but I never officially reviewed it. But I'm trying to do a monthly throwback reviews that fit the monthly theme and this is the perfect one for this month so let's dive right in.

First off I love the plot development of this book. I describe it as Dracula meets The DaVinci Code. It is one of those books where you are taken on a worldwide adventure to hunt for clues and believe me when I say it is a thrilling adventure. I am frequently whining about how much I dislike travel monologues and how they aren't plot points to me and I think it's because this book ruined all future books like this for me because it is so good. It's so well plotted as the clues unfold and you are taken along for an exciting ride. I think the thing that the author does so well is that there is not only are the stakes really high but each step along the way is purposeful and interesting. The plot was so exciting that even the second time around I was just as surprised and enthralled. And many of you will probably know that I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to mysteries. I knew how this was going to end and it still managed to keep me on my toes which really is the mark of a great read if you ask me.

The other great thing about this plot development is the historical aspect. The reason that I am doing this throwback review during this month is because this is a classic example of a historical mystery and why that is my favorite subgenre. The thing I like most about historical mystery is it takes something that happens in the past and attaches it to a mystery in the present. So because of that there are so many great elements of historical fiction, in this case Vlad the Impaler or the real Dracula, and the mystery of the main character trying to find her parents. The two elements blend together beautifully to craft a story full of mystery, fantasy, and adventure.

This book also has a great setting and world. As I said, this is one of those worldwide adventures kind of stories so there are plenty of places to explore. Most of the book takes place in different parts of Eastern Europe like different parts of Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Each different place comes alive in your mind as you can perfectly visualize the locations and the history of the place. I felt like I could perfectly imagine everything from the castles of Romania to the markets of Istanbul. The author definitely transports you to these places as you are reading and it's one of the main reasons that the travel works and the book is so enjoyable.

Finally, I really liked the characters of this book. Because this is a book with a ton of mystery and is all about secrets it should come as no surprise that this is a book full of complex and mysterious characters. Every single one of them has something to hide and because of that they keep you on your toes. I loved getting to know each of them and learning about their past and present, It made for a really interesting read to see them at their best and their worst. The other thing about this book is that main character never gets a name. She's just sort of this nameless young woman. That might sound strange and annoying but it sort of lead this great thing where you could immerse yourself into her perspective and the story. It made things even more interesting.

As I said, The Historian is one of my all-time favorite books. I absolutely love everything about it. The plot, the mystery, the setting, the world, the characters. It's engrossing and enthralling. I read it ten years ago and loved it, I read it four years ago and loved. I could read it today and I would probably still love it.

I give The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova 10 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! Is there any doubt? I love this book so much and want everyone and their dog to read it. If you like historical mysteries or books that take you on a worldwide adventure you must check this book out.

Have you read The Historian? I know a few of you out there love it as much as I do. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I've always wanted to read this book but I have never gotten around to it! I'm a little intimidated by it, to be honest... You definitely have me convinced though! I need to read this sooner rather than later!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  2. I loved it! It's been several years since I read it but I still think about it often. I don't know why I haven't read any of her other books. I will have to remedy that.

  3. This sounds so good. It's completely new to me, but it sounds right up my alley.

    I have a ton of books I read before I started blogging that I would love to review. It's a great idea!