Customer Reviews for

The Historian

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

Better than Stoker's original?

Although vampire stories have always intrigued people, I must confess that I'm surprised (although happily so) that this book has gotten so many good rewiews-- this in a time when fluff vampire stories like those written by Stephanie Meyer and Charlaine Harris are all t...
Although vampire stories have always intrigued people, I must confess that I'm surprised (although happily so) that this book has gotten so many good rewiews-- this in a time when fluff vampire stories like those written by Stephanie Meyer and Charlaine Harris are all the rage. It's nice to know that there are others out there who can appreciate a historically-grounded, thoroughly researched book and still be entertained by it.

Although The Historian is one of my favorites, I do have a difficult time recommending it because I understand that not all people (in fact, MOST people) can't sit through more than 200 pages of anything, especially not a book that gives lengthy details of obscure eastern European history (which I found particularly interesting). If you're looking for blood, horror, and sex, this isn't the book for you!

Some may consider this blasphemy, but I found Kostova's work much more engaging and fascinating than Stoker's original Dracula. I hope we don't have to wait another ten years to see another novel with her name on it!

posted by J_R_M on October 14, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

14 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

Please tell me why....

The paperback is 3.00 cheaper than the eBook version?! I absolutely love my Nook, but refuse to buy any eBook that costs more than I can pay for the actual hold-in-my hand printed book!

posted by bradsbabe on April 12, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Drakula

    Engaging verbose telling of the drakula legend

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2011

    Compelling but Drags

    The Historian has a fantastic overall story, and Kostova's attention to detail is absolutely remarkable. That being said, there are many lulls in the plot, and I often found myself frustrated when I would achieve the third or fourth flashback-within-a-flashback. As much as the fantastic details and descriptions add to the setting and ambiance of the book, they also slow down the plot at the exact moment that you want it to pick up speed.

    I would definitely recommend it, but be prepared for the fact that it will take a long time to finish it.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Great read!

    I thought this was a great book! I just wished there hadnt been so many umanswered questions

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  • Posted July 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Da Vinci Code meets Twilight

    I've been meaning to read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova for over two years. A good friend entrusted her copy to me, I admit for far too long. I have to say the nearly 650 pages of the hardcover edition were a bit off-putting. However, being a vampire-aholic - Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, etc., I knew it was about time for me to sink my teeth into this one.

    Surprisingly, what stood out for me wasn't the modern day retelling of the Dracula myth, it was Kostova's description of European travel that enticed me as a reader. I loved following Paul and his daughter as they journeyed from one city to another taking in the architecture, culture and personalities of each locale. But what really whetted my appetite was the indulgent food imagery. Picnics of fine wine, aged cheese and homemade bread. Taking tea at quaint, out-of-the way cafes. Sumptuous dinners at French restaurants or the home of an Italian friend. For me, Kostova nailed setting the culinary scene to get anyone's taste buds watering.

    In terms of pacing, I think the novel could have been trimmed by half. The novel progresses through at least three time periods: the 1930s, the 1950s and the 1970s with sprinklings from the modern day as well as the 15th century of Dracula's domain. These different eras are bridged in the novel mainly through a character's correspondence via letter or diary entry. However, this writing style becomes overused. For example, we get our first glimpse of Dracula through a recorded account. We never get to meet him in real time. This takes away from the inherent build-up of his much anticipated arrival.

    Where Kostova excels is her look at Eastern Europe under the throes of communism. For an American historian, the freedom to follow Dracula's trail through Bulgaria and Romania is impeded by these governments. It is only through the insider access provided by Helen, Paul's traveling partner and native Hungarian, that these insular societies are breached. The closer the two get to Dracula, the more they are put under surveillance by these Communist regimes. It creates an interesting push-and-pull dynamic within the hunt for Dracula.

    The novel asks the ultimate question: Can the legend of Dracula be real? Kostova does an admirable job of delineating his back story. The Transylvanian noble who held back an Ottoman invasion through the depravity of his barbarity. Out of a perverse sense of enjoyment, he even impaled thousands of his own people. At a time when the printing press was in its infancy, the tales of his atrocities spread wildly throughout Europe.

    And they live on to this day. The current spate of vampire induced frenzy indicates the level of attraction the myth still fosters in our creative subconscious. Kostova's tome was released in the summer of 2005, while Stephenie Meyer's Twilight was published in the fall of that same year. You would think a film adaptation of The Historian would be a no-brainer. Here's hoping this New York Times best seller makes its way to the big screen - just for the European scenery alone.

    Overall, The Da Vinci Code meets Twilight.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    great story alittle confusing at first but all in all good book

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  • Posted May 26, 2011

    Interesting, above average, yet flawed suspense/thriller

    I find it interesting that the customer reviews for Kostova's debut novel range so wildly, I think perhaps I can figure out why...If you're looking for a vampire book to supplement the Stephanie Meyer series, well, this ain't it. 'The Historian' is however a perfect final chapter in the lore of the vampire and should stand as the coda for Stoker's work (you hear that everyone - no more vampire books!)

    Admittedly this novel is over long, to put it politely we could say that it is 'throroughly written.' At its best, the tale is one of scholarly intrigue that moves briskly along with a knowledge and understanding that Dan Brown fails to even grasp at. At its worst however, we have overly long descriptions of napkins and table settings.

    I find it necessary to confess two things that may have rather significant importance in why I enjoyed this work so much (reading all 700pages in less than 3 days) - First, I don't care for books of the supernatural or vampires- so while the vampires contained within play by the standard Stoker/Rice rules, while obviously not believable, it at least lent itself some form of familiarity. Second, I am a history grad student...yup, just like the heroes...the long historical passages, the leaps of academic fate, the late nights of all consuming research- yeah, I kinda related...

    Read it if you want an intricate tale heavy on backstory that requires your full commitment.
    Don't read it if you want a breezy romance about sparkly creatures in highschool.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    ssssiiiicccckkk

    move away twilight historian is here and it actually knows vamps! this isnt about count orlock( nosfurato) but is actually history and ( cold.war era ) geograpy lesson! i probably use this in my history of europe class! +A forme!

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  • Posted November 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Must Read!

    This book was the perfect book to read near Halloween. I loved the realistic world the author depicted. My only criticism was that it was hard to tell the difference between the different narrators, they all seemed to have the same voice. Just the same, this book is a must read!

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  • Posted August 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguing

    The book itself you could say took a lot of time and research to write. It was well versed, well researched for the topic and even made you feel like you were reading a history lesson. The book was okay. I found it hard to stay focused and a bit confusing throughout the first three quarters of the book. It was intriguing when I finally got to understand more and more of the story, but it was a bit drawn out. Would I read it again? Probably not.

    I do want to give this new author props for taking on a challenging topic to write a story about. She almost made the story seem like it was about her since the main female character's name was never revealed. It took Elizabeth Kostova 8 years to write this story. I understand given the extensive research she must have put in to write. Her writing style was great, well versed, and structurally fantastic.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    This is not your daughter's vampire story....

    Forget the love-that-cannot-be tragic hero vampires who are all the rage right now. This a wonderfully evocative journey in search of the real monster on whom many current legends are based. Three eras, three quests, three generations are woven together to tell the tale and a chilling tale it is. What I found most engrossing was attention to detail; the descriptions of the appearance and atmosphere of exotic locals and times past as well as modern settings in places I have visited kept me engaged and anxious to find out what happens next. It's a big book that I thought would last the summer and yet I read it in about ten days-if I hadn't had to go to work, it would have been faster!

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  • Posted May 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Story

    Very wordy and boring at times but it was a great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2010

    Prepare for at least a few sleepless nights!

    Kostova writes with suspense without going over the top into the science fiction realm, despite the nature of the plot. She dispells the romanticism of vampires and instead sheds light on the gruesome and factual nature of Vlad Dracula. While the love story was a nice way to take the edge off of the thrilling nature of the story, it ultimately falls flat. The resolution of it seems to be anticlimactic. Still, there is a page-turning, edge-of-your-seat quality about the first half of the book that will leave a reader wondering if they should sleep with the light on, pull the covers up a little further around their neck and close the book altogether--just in case. I recommend this book to those who are looking for entertainment with history mixed in.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Not your typical vampire book

    I ejoyed the Historian, but it's not your typical vampire book. It goes into the history of the legend quite heavily. The setting moves around quite a bit. I enjoyed this aspect of the story as it allowed me an opportunity to "visit" places I never will get to see in real life. My grandparents came from Hungry so this was a very interesting part of the book to me. I appreciated the author's descriptions of the landmarks throughout the book. In addition to Hungrian and Transylvanian settings, there are mini-tours of various cities and places, that atr quite detailed and realistic. The fact thaat the original Dracula was an actual historical figure is woven throughout the book. The book was not an easy read for me, and there were some moments that I wanted to stop reading for a while which I did but then I'd come back and read some more. The character development was excellent. I did have a bit of trouble with the fact that the plot skipped around in time quite a bit. One minute you are reading about history and the next current events so perhapes that's one reason why the book took a lot longer than I had originally thought that it would.

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  • Posted March 24, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    The Perfect Marriage of Mystery, History, and Gothic Horror

    Don't be daunted by this book's length...it reads quickly and easily, often shifting points of view to keep the story fresh.

    The novel follows the story of a young girl's search for answers about her family history, and the shroud of mystery that seems to envelope her father. Why did he rarely speak of her mother? What is the story behind the mysterious book in his study that seems to cause him fear and grief? What happened in his youth that made him tremble at the name of "Vlad Dracula?" Are vampires real, and if so, is Dracula one of them? Is he after her family?

    This story moves quickly, and is infused with enough historical fact to make it seem more like an autobiography than a work of fiction. I was, however, a little disappointed by the ending, which left me confused, with more questions than answers. The story seemed to come to a tidy end, but the final few pages left me scratching my head. Perhaps there is a sequel to follow. At any rate, this book is worth the read, and the time.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Got wrapped up in the action

    Thoroughly enjoyed the plot, following the main character and the mythology in the story. It was a fun read and the art of the cover was designed in a way that conveys the mood quite well. Not sure how much dissection value it has for book clubs, but it would be a fun read for them.

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  • Posted March 8, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    A great mystery at its blood-red heart

    I just finished "The Historian". Wow.

    It feels like I just finished a race. A long one. Where I didn't take many breathers. And I was chased by vampires.

    "The Historian", at it's blood red heart, is a crime mystery/thriller. A man discovers a strange book, left mysteriously for him at a library. The book contains only a woodcut stamp of a dragon and the word "Drakulya". After showing this book to his professor, the man learns that not only has Professor Rossi also received the book under similarly mysterious circumstances, but he's spent years researching what it may mean, and is convinced that vampires, and Dracula himself, walk the Earth.

    The night that Professor Rossi discusses his research, he disappears. From then on, the story is an intense roller coaster ride, complete with long slow pulls up steep slopes that build anticipation until you reach a peak and speed down an insane drop.

    All while being chased by vampires.

    Kostova does a wonderful job pulling the reading into the story. Her primary device echos Bram Stoker's use of letters and diaries to tell his story. She does an even better job of teasing the reader by ending almost every chapter through the first half of the book with a mini-cliffhanger. I found myself waking up more tired than usual after having spent another night reading "just one more chapter".

    There are a couple of, dare I say, beautiful romances within the story. Each are parallels of each other set in different time periods. And I have to be honest, I thought they were both charming and passionate.

    I've never had much interest in Eastern Europe, but Kostova paints wonderful imagery of the locations and their histories. The scene-setting is, however, sometimes rather drawn out.

    "The Historian" is quite long and has as many twists, turns and clues as there are books on vampires. I felt the payoff was wonderful and the ride to get there even better.

    I highly recommend "The Historian".

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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    Chilling and Romantic At Once

    This was a great read. I loved the characters and they kept my attention. Although at times confusing, I loved the historical pieces of the book and learned things I never really new about but now find I'd like to learn more. It was chilling, captivating and entertaining.

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  • Posted August 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Your Typical Vampire Book!

    Lots of rich history surrounding Dracula and his ?death. If you love history, you will love this book. Couldn't put it down.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting characters and unusual storyline

    I enjoyed the twist this book had to offer. This was not your typical vampire book involving romance or the usual vanity that most writers tend to lean towards. This story involves a lot of thrills, suspense, superstition, and excitement.

    The writer had the characters constantly on the move and I had a hard time following between the different cities and countries. Perhaps someone who travels or has knowledge of Europe would be able to picture the travels of the characters better than I did. There is a map included in the book which I did refer to often.

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  • Posted February 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great addition to the traditional Dracula story!

    I enjoyed this book. The author was so good at painting the story that I actually had nightmares! I have suggested this book to all my reader friends.

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