Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova

"...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 fifteenth-century 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..."

Nothing in that said "vampires" and "Dracula" to me.

I mean, yes, I know Vlad the Impaler is the...inspiration, let's say, for Dracula, but nothing there indicated that's the route she was going. To me. Now, had I read the quoted blurbs, I wouldn't have been surprised when vampires made their appearance, but I never do. It's not like they're going to put ones that say the book sucks, or could be written better. So, I don't bother.

So, yeah, vampires.

Overall, I liked this book. It was a bit...not slow, that makes it sound bad. It wasn't. But it was...deliberate. It's written as a history narrative. It starts when the "author" (narrator) is 16. She travels with her father, who begins the story about his mentor and doctoral adviser's disappearance. The book is divided into 3 parts. The first part, the "deliberate" part, alternates between the narrator's voice, her recollection, and her father's. It creates a dynamic read, but it does make it feel like you're reading and reading and not getting much in the way of information.

It picks up after that though.

Later parts continue to alternate between the narrator and letters from various other characters.

I loved that it took the reader through so many amazing sights. I had plenty to add to my travel wish list.

Another aspect I liked was the time frame. Because there are stories within stories, the time frames bounce around. If I had to find a rough timeline, I would say it starts, for the mentor, in the late 1930's and progresses to the present day with the narrator is an adult and professor herself. Due to this, a lot of the travel takes place during the cold war, which adds another layer of interest and intrigue to the stories. There are spies and/or secret police added in.

It's not a book you'd find in the romance section, but there are plenty of love stories to get sucked into. There's a love story between the mentor and a Romanian woman, the father and mother, and a budding/first love between the narrator and a young college co-ed. So, I'm going to call it a win for Read-A-Romance month. :)

My only real issue, besides the pace, was the end. It wasn't a bad ending, but it was ambiguous. And not in the good, "Ooo! What happens next?! Is there going to be a sequel?!" kind of end. It was more like "wait, what? Did I read that right?" I literally went back and read it a couple of times trying to see if I missed something. I'm not sure if it was a hopeful ending, or a sinister ending, or neither. I'm fine with the author leaving it up to the reader, but I prefer it where there's a little push in one direction or another.

I don't feel like I can say much more without giving too much away. I don't mind sharing spoilers, but I won't share them unnecessarily. ;)

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova

No comments:

Post a Comment