The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

A young girl exploring her father’s library chances upon an ancient book and a collection of aged letters containing secrets that connect her family’s past to Vlad the Impaler, the Prince of Wallachia, on whom the legend of Dracula is based.
Except that it turns out that it’s not just a legend…

The Historian is one of the best thrillers I have ever read. 816 pages might seem long for a novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed its wordiness as I sank my teeth into this hair-raising adventure.

The narrative is told in alternating chapters from three different timelines: the narrator, the narrator’s father (Paul), and Paul’s adviser Professor Rossi. It is interesting to note that they are, at different points of their lives, on the same quest — the quest to find Dracula and vanquish his evil.

It is an exciting chase throughout the Eastern bloc, rich Eastern European history, and a lot of sleepless nights for the reader.

I don’t know what interrupted my reading more — endless things to do at work, or the fact that I couldn’t stay up alone at night reading it because it gave me the creeps.

On my first reading, I was at Starbucks, sipping my latte and reading, sitting on the counter against the glass wall of the store. Suddenly a rap comes through the window and I nearly jump out of my skin in fright… It turned out it was my thesis adviser — hehe, Sir Brion lang pala, phew! — but man, I was terrified!

When I first got The Historian, I was really looking for a good historical thriller and I seriously thought I’d be sorely disappointed, after having read The Rule of Four, The Secret Supper, and The Dante Club in succession. With all the historical thrillers out, I was really cautious of buying another one because it might turn out to be a dud. I’m glad I was wrong. The Historian was definitely a satisfying read.

The second time I read it was in September, when a bunch of The Historian fans from Flips Flipping Pages decided to get together to discuss the book and eventually turned it into an official discussion. I thought rereading it wouldn’t be as scary, but I spoke too soon, as I was home alone and couldn’t sleep without the light on! I kept seeing Vlad Tepes’ face every time I closed my eyes that week…

The Historian isn’t for everyone — some balk at length, some (*cough Twilight fans cough*) prefer four volumes of sap disguised as vampire novels, and some just plain don’t like it — but for those into historical thrillers, I’d say it’s a must read!

My copy: originally a mass market paperback, upgraded into a trade paperback, upgraded into a hardcover with a missing dust jacket, and now (permanently) a hardcover with a dust jacket!

My rating: 5/5 stars!

book photo courtesy:

11 thoughts on “The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova”

  1. I just completed “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova. It is a long book but it kept by attention to the end. Sometimes it did seem like the characters were not as well developed as they could have been

    The descriptions of places in Eastern Europe and Turkey were very good as was the section devoted to Prof. Rossi’s encounter with Dracula. As I read the accounnts of the historical research done by the academic characters I was good not help thinking how different academic reserch is now in our internet dominated universities versus those of the 1970s and earlier depicted in “The Historian”. I will be looking forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Kostova

  2. I also hope Elizabeth Kostova writes another book!!!

    What I really enjoyed was how it scared the living daylights out of me. Haha I haven’t read a book that scared me so much in a very very long time.

  3. Don’t read this when you are alone. This freaked the hell out of me. After I read the letters in Chapter 9 (?) hinde ko na sya binasa ulit sa gabi. XD

  4. oooh, i really liked this one. a creepy chunkster, but worth every page it’s written on! so kostova doesn’t have any other books, blooey?

    1. she has a new one out, The Swan Thieves, it’s contemporary art fiction I think? I havent gotten it yet because the reviews arent so good.

  5. Sorry, I’ve been poking around your archives ~ just because. :) And I have to agree, this is one of my favorite books as well! “The Swan Thieves” was a disappointment after this wonderful work.

    1. Wow, thanks for spending so much time in my blog. My archives page has a bug I can’t seem to track, but hopefully I can get some technical help in when my sched clears out so you’ll have an easier time browsing.

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