The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

75%

19 Critic Reviews

...the undeniable truth by any criteria is that this wonderful, complex, often scary saga is an impressive achievement for a first-time author. But, even more importantly, The Historian is massive and altogether fabulous book for those who love paranormals or thrillers or historical fiction...
-All About Romance

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.Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions-and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vlad's ancient powers-one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. Elizabeth Kostova's debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions, a relentless tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present, with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful-and utterly unforgettable.
 

About Elizabeth Kostova

See more books from this Author
Elizabeth Kostova is the author of the international bestseller The Historian. She graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won the Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress.
 
Published September 1, 2009 by Back Bay Books. 720 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Horror, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for The Historian
All: 19 | Positive: 16 | Negative: 3

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Jane Stevenson on Jul 24 2005

This book reads like a cross between Dracula and The Da Vinci Code. Essentially, it is a spirited update of Bram Stoker's classic...Like all reworkings, it is more knowing, and less fun, than its original.

Read Full Review of The Historian | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Jane Stevenson on Jul 23 2005

Kostova, unlike Stoker, does not end her novel with 19th-century, all-ends-well closure. Her book has a Hollywood ending, that is, one which prepares the ground for a sequel...

Read Full Review of The Historian | See more reviews from Guardian

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by NICOLE LANGAN on Jul 18 2011

Surprisingly, what stood out for me wasn't the modern day retelling of the Dracula myth, it was Kostova's description of European travel...The novel asks the ultimate question: Can the legend of Dracula be real? Kostova does an admirable job of delineating his back story.

Read Full Review of The Historian

Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on Jan 22 2011

Although the leisurely pace, passages of travelogue description, and bits of historical lore made for a bit of a slow start, I was soon well hooked...This tapestry of tales is part mystery, part romance, and part adventure --- but at its heart, it is a stylish vampire story and fascinating reading.

Read Full Review of The Historian

Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer Reese on Jan 22 2015

There’s a really terrific vampire story buried somewhere in The Historian...Eventually, even the most patient reader may begin to tire of all this talking and touring. I will reveal this much: There is indeed a rich payoff if you persist through the slow parts.

Read Full Review of The Historian

All About Romance

Good
Reviewed by Sandy Coleman on Apr 26 2015

...the undeniable truth by any criteria is that this wonderful, complex, often scary saga is an impressive achievement for a first-time author. But, even more importantly, The Historian is massive and altogether fabulous book for those who love paranormals or thrillers or historical fiction...

Read Full Review of The Historian | See more reviews from All About Romance

About.com

Above average
Reviewed by Shawn Stufflebeam on Apr 28 2015

I truly enjoyed reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. In fact, I was supposed to have this review done two months ago, but I just couldn't get myself to speed read this book. A really great story that weighs in at over 6oo pages, I ended up just savoring every bit of it.

Read Full Review of The Historian

Boston.com

Above average
Reviewed by Peter Bebergal on Jun 15 2005

Many mysteries are left unsolved. Those that are come at the expense of continuity and logic. Nevertheless, ''The Historian" is engrossing, and Kostova's depiction of the work of historians is strangely riveting.

Read Full Review of The Historian

Curious Book Fans

Excellent
Reviewed by eilidhcatriona on Sep 29 2010

The Historian is a brilliant novel. It quite literally took my breath away, left me shaken and peering over my shoulder – yet at no point did I consider stopping reading, I could not read fast enough to find out what was going to happen next. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Read Full Review of The Historian

AuthorsDen

Good
Reviewed by S G Cardin on Apr 26 2015

Kostova is brilliant in weaving myth, fact, fiction, and reality all together. Up until the end of the book, she had me guessing if Helen was bitten a third time by Dracula. It was well thought out, well written, and very engaging once the pace picked up. It is a fresh take on the Dracula legend and not some stale vampire tale.

Read Full Review of The Historian

The Ranting Dragon

Good
Reviewed by Mohua Chakraborti on Apr 09 2014

I believe that history lovers, lovers of learning, and academics will find this work very satisfying. Fans of literary elegance and poetry will also find the writing rich and fulfilling...It is a wonderful piece of mystery and adventure that inspires the historian in all of us.

Read Full Review of The Historian

Boomtron

Below average
on Dec 19 2005

Given the current popularity of scholarly thrillers, and Kostova’s erudite approach, it’s easy to see why this novel has sold so well. However, the repetitive layered narrative and the excessive detail also show why so few of those copies have been read.

Read Full Review of The Historian

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Hannah G on Apr 28 2014

This is the story of a girl and her father and how they are drawn into a search for the greatest villain of all time – Count Dracula...The Historian is a great read not only for any Dracula lover, but anyone who likes romance, history, travel, or just a good solid story.

Read Full Review of The Historian

Fantasy Faction

Above average
Reviewed by Chloe Smith on Apr 15 2011

The Historian succeeds as a supernatural mystery and as an exploration of the hold that history has over our imagination...Both Kostova’s insights and her intricate plotting techniques keep the story moving through its almost 700 pages, but, stylistically speaking, it has some limitations. One is the length...

Read Full Review of The Historian

Tiny Library

Good
Reviewed by Sam on Jun 01 2013

I just love this book! It contains so many of the things I love in fiction...The Historian is a meandering book full of twists and turns and the horror elements are more subtle than you might expect. As I love gothic classics, this works perfectly for me. I love this book and don't hesitate to recommend it!

Read Full Review of The Historian

Reviews of Books

Good
Reviewed by W. R. Greer on May 01 2005

Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian is a new approach to the Dracula story, telling the story from the perspective of historians in a race to find his grave...Read The Historian as a love of history, travel, and humanity, with the mystery and evil of Dracula lurking in the background to jump out at you.

Read Full Review of The Historian

http://mostlyfiction.com

Above average
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie on Jul 15 2005

To the author's credit, she tells a whale of a tale, and puts a most original spin on an old, but always exciting story. Her narrative is almost totally plot driven, however, and because of this the characters' development is almost nil...I love good historical fiction, based on accurate facts...

Read Full Review of The Historian

January Magazine

Above average
Reviewed by Tony Buchsbaum on Jul 01 2005

The Historian is an admirable work, one that will certainly resonate in some ways, but to be fair it must also be said that the novel's studied history and excessive traveloguing suck from it much of the life it might have had.

Read Full Review of The Historian

http://bibliophilescorner.blogspot.com

Good
Reviewed by Olga J on Jan 29 2012

Let me tell you, this isn't flat-out a vampire book. It's more of a historical adventure novel with a search for a missing scholar in the center of it, and just so happens that Dracula himself is the main suspect...I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, adventure and fantasy...

Read Full Review of The Historian

Reader Rating for The Historian
65%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 2509 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review