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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian (2005)

by Elizabeth Kostova

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,947708146 (3.69)4 / 672
A young woman discovers an ancient book and a cache of old letters in her father's library, and thus begins her adventurous quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, a search that will span continents and generations, and a confrontation with the darkest powers of evil.
  1. 333
    Dracula by Bram Stoker (SandSing7)
  2. 181
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (GodOfTheAnthill)
    GodOfTheAnthill: Both mystery novels with a similar tone and atmosphere
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    A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (clamairy)
    clamairy: Similar themes of magic and academia.
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    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (bethielouwho)
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    Dracula [Norton Critical Edition] by Bram Stoker (Nubiannut)
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    Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (Johanna11)
  7. 40
    Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust (tessac)
    tessac: Freedom & Necessity is epistolic in nature so if that appealed to you in The Historian, I heartily recommend F & N. There are no vampires but, like The Historian, the fantastical is subtly woven into the story.
  8. 51
    Dracula the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker (Joles)
    Joles: Both of these books share a great deal of research and they keep you speeding through one chapter to the next. Oh...and they both have Dracula....
  9. 30
    People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (Johanna11)
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    The Quick by Lauren Owen (ablachly)
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    Nocturne by Syrie James (Joles)
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    The Grand Complication by Allen Kurzweil (FFortuna)
  13. 76
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Johanna11)
  14. 10
    The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers (MyriadBooks)
  15. 10
    Lord of the Dead by Tom Holland (QueenOfDenmark)
    QueenOfDenmark: I've just started reading The Vampyre but right from the start it put me in mind of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. Lord Byron is used as the main character in Tom Holland's The Vampyre to interesting effect while count Dracula is the more traditional vampire hero in Kostova's Historian.… (more)
  16. 10
    The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber (nicchic)
  17. 21
    Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James (Joles)
  18. 10
    Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt (kullfarr)
  19. 11
    Angelology by Danielle Trussoni (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: A well-imagined history with supernatural beings.
  20. 00
    The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan (nicchic)

(see all 23 recommendations)


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English (686)  Spanish (8)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (707)
Showing 1-5 of 686 (next | show all)
DNF @ 9%.

I can't.

I can't, I can't, I can't.

I know The Historian is so loved by so many people, and while I'm no stranger to DNFing books, I don't know the LAST time I read a book and could only ingest about 2 pages at a time. It's very much a stylistic thing for me - there were passages that pulled me in, but as whole, it really failed to hold my attention. It's in the storytelling the style - the "let me tell you a story that was told to me by my mentor, but I must tell it to you slowly over time" thing that, nearly 60 pages in, has only informed me that this is a vampire book. I have no emotional attachment to the main character at all. Indeed, I can't even conjure her name.

At 9%, I haven't read enough to say if The Historian is a good book, a bad book, or a book worth reading. For me, it is too long and too slowly paced with far too much nuance and too little character presence to endure, but it's all about your person rhythm. Maybe The Historian will be perfect for you. I just couldn't force myself through 700 pages of misery just to say, "I read it."
  Morteana | Apr 10, 2020 |
This is an exhaustive update of the Dracula story. Unfortunately, exhaustive is the key word. The story went on and on and on. The characters are likable and the story engaging, but it was just too long. ( )
  DrApple | Mar 1, 2020 |
I enjoyed this book. Mind you it is a long book. If you endeavor to read it, make sure you allow yourself to immerse into the writings of the author. While she does open up different dialogues during the book, it has a purpose. I enjoy an author who takes me on a journey and shows me places and their history. You need to be patient in the reading. It has many details and many characters. The journey may jump around a bit. i would even take the time to find the places in the book on the internet. I like this in a book. I don't agree with the other people who have reviewed this book with easy flight. They give a long and sometimes too long reason for their disappointment but if feel at times many do this just to give attention to themselves or they see themselves as having a talent.

If you can take the time to read this i believe you will enjoy. But if you cannot prepare yourself for the long journey, don't start it. The journey is yours, enjoy! ( )
  Klatooo | Feb 8, 2020 |
One of my favorites!! I decided to do a double-header and re-read both this and Stoker's Dracula back to back this winter. I love her descriptions of the settings. ( )
  DeidreH | Jan 26, 2020 |
It has a very slow start. Ms. Kostova gets 5 stars for her descriptions, but 3 stars for action. It was a wonderfully written book about a family and their fight against the darkness inside them. I would recommend it only if you have a long stretch to read it in. If you get interrupted, you will lose your place and forget what happens. I recommend the audio book aswell, thats how I got through it. ( )
  clove311 | Jan 9, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 686 (next | show all)
Vlad Lit: don't flirt with it, just sink your teeth right in
When, after many other allusions to historians and historicism, Kostova introduced a character whose last name is Hristova, I was tempted to run out to a pharmacy for some antihristomine.

What's unfortunate about this overload is that the book -- which seems to want to do for historians what ''Possession'' did for literary scholars -- is otherwise the kind of wonderfully paced yarn that would make a suitable companion to a deck chair, a patch of sun and some socklessness.
In a ponderous, many-layered book that is exquisitely versed in the art of stalling, Ms. Kostova steeps her readers in Dracula lore. She visits many libraries, monasteries, relics of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, crypts, restaurants, scholars and folk-song-singing peasants. Every now and then a mysterious pale, sinister figure will materialize, only to vanish bewilderingly. The book's characters find this a lot more baffling than readers will.
Stuffed with rich, incense-laden cultural history and travelogue, The Historian is a smart, bibliophilic mystery in the same vein (sorry) as A.S. Byatt's Possession--but without all that poetry.
added by Shortride | editTime, Lev Grossman (Jun 12, 2005)

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Kostovaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eyre, JustineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michael, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ram, TitiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schroderus, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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How these papers have been placed in sequence will be
made manifest in the reading of them. All needless matters have
been eliminated, so that a history almost at variance with the
possibilities of later-day belief may stand forth as simple fact.
There is throughout no statement of past things wherein memory
may err, for all the records chosen are exactly contemporary,
given from the stand-points and within the range
of knowledge of those who made them.

     —Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897
What sort of place had I come to, and among what kind of
people? What sort of grim adventure was it on which I had
embarked? . . . I began to rub my eyes and pinch myself to see if
I were awake. It all seemed like a horrible nightmare to me, and I
expected that I should suddenly awake, and find myself at home,
with the dawn struggling in through the windows, as I had now
and again felt in the morning after a day of overwork. But my
flesh answered the pinching test, and my eyes were not to be
deceived. I was indeed awake and among the Carpathians. All
I could do now was to be patient, and to wait the coming
of the morning.

—Bram Stoker, Dracula,1897
There was one great tomb more lordly than all the rest; huge it was,
and nobly proportioned. On it was but one word,


     —Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897.
For my father,
who first told me
some of these stories
First words
A Note To The Reader

The story that follows is one I never intended to commit to paper.
In 1972 I was sixteen—young, my father said, to be traveling with him on his diplomatic missions.
"To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history . . ."
"My dear and unfortunate successor . . ."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine with any abridged editions of The Historian.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to 'My dear and unfortunate successor'. Her discovery plunges 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 evil hidden in the depths of history. In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright - a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.

AR 7.3, 42 Pts
Haiku summary
Dracula - alive!
But where to find him today?
Family's search for truth

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Average: (3.69)
0.5 38
1 184
1.5 28
2 451
2.5 117
3 1153
3.5 315
4 1854
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