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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
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The Historian (2005)

by Elizabeth Kostova

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,002693132 (3.69)4 / 658
  1. 333
    Dracula by Bram Stoker (SandSing7)
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    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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    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....
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  12. 20
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  13. 76
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Johanna11)
  14. 10
    The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers (MyriadBooks)
  15. 21
    Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James (Joles)
  16. 10
    Angelology by Danielle Trussoni (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: A well-imagined history with supernatural beings.
  17. 10
    The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber (nicchic)
  18. 10
    Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt (kullfarr)
  19. 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)
  20. 00
    The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan (nicchic)

(see all 23 recommendations)

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English (672)  Spanish (6)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (691)
Showing 1-5 of 672 (next | show all)
This book is a bit of a slow burn and definitely took a bit to finish even though it passed my 1oo page rule. The narrative tends to meander along, giving you just enough intrigue to keep you reading, wondering where on earth this is going and what the author is going to do with this story.

I absolutley LOVED all the in depth research that Kostova put into this, it paid off beautifully and enriched the story beyond compare. The way she pulled together so many aspects of Dracula's folklore and mythology and researched how it sunk into Eastern European culture was utterly breath taking and I found such enjoyment in finding things I already knew about vampiric myths with completely knew information to add to my little collection. I also loved the descriptions of communist Cold War era Eastern Europe and the paranoia that comes with it, but also the rich history that these countries and regions had and the way that they mixed and existed alongside and inspite of each other.

At times I did struggle with the switch between narrators and remembering who was speaking and who was listening, it was a bit of a matroyshka doll at some points but I managed to make it through after a bit of flipping to and fro and re-reading of a few parts and it didn't take away from the story enough to deter me from continuing.

Ultimately this book is an honest to goodness work of art. ( )
  LiteraryDream | Sep 30, 2018 |
I love all things history, so I was first drawn to this book by the title. Then by the gothic cover. Then by the clever concept of an historian's fictional search for Dracula. History, supernatural, mystery and horror all rolled into one. That intrigued me. The story begins when a young woman stumbles upon a mysterious book and a series of letters suggesting that her father had once undertaken the dangerous task of hunting down Dracula himself. Now our heroine must decide whether to take up the challenge. Of course she does! And Kostova proceeds to weave together the story of a search that has spanned generations, destroyed lives, and takes us across Europe to exotic locations, dusty libraries and ruined monasteries. She does this largely through letters and diary entries in a style that reminded me at times of the original Dracula, teasing us along the way with sightings of the creature itself, and slowly leading us to our questionable prize. It is a slow burn. At times a tease. But I liked that. I especially liked the rich scenery, the historical detail, and Kostova's careful recounting of her historical methodology. Be warned, this is not a traditional vampire story, nor yet a traditional adventure novel, and some may be disappointed by the pace or the epistolary style, but I found myself engrossed nonetheless and eager to uncover the truth. ( )
  AndrewGaddes | Sep 17, 2018 |
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.
  JESGalway | Sep 10, 2018 |
I'm really not into vampires. That said, I thought the story was fascinating. I like the history behind the vampire legends. ( )
  nittnut | Aug 30, 2018 |
Just meh. The production was cheesy. ( )
  blogbrarian | Jul 16, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 672 (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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Epigraph
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,


     DRACULA.

     —Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897.
Dedication
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.
Quotations
"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
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316011770, Hardcover)

If your pulse flutters at the thought of castle ruins and descents into crypts by moonlight, you will savor every creepy page of Elizabeth Kostova's long but beautifully structured thriller The Historian. The story opens in Amsterdam in 1972, when a teenage girl discovers a medieval book and a cache of yellowed letters in her diplomat father's library. The pages of the book are empty except for a woodcut of a dragon. The letters are addressed to: "My dear and unfortunate successor." When the girl confronts her father, he reluctantly confesses an unsettling story: his involvement, twenty years earlier, in a search for his graduate school mentor, who disappeared from his office only moments after confiding to Paul his certainty that Dracula--Vlad the Impaler, an inventively cruel ruler of Wallachia in the mid-15th century--was still alive. The story turns out to concern our narrator directly because Paul's collaborator in the search was a fellow student named Helen Rossi (the unacknowledged daughter of his mentor) and our narrator's long-dead mother, about whom she knows almost nothing. And then her father, leaving just a note, disappears also.

As well as numerous settings, both in and out of the East Bloc, Kostova has three basic story lines to keep straight--one from 1930, when Professor Bartolomew Rossi begins his dangerous research into Dracula, one from 1950, when Professor Rossi's student Paul takes up the scent, and the main narrative from 1972. The criss-crossing story lines mirror the political advances, retreats, triumphs, and losses that shaped Dracula's beleaguered homeland--sometimes with the Byzantines on top, sometimes the Ottomans, sometimes the rag-tag local tribes, or the Orthodox church, and sometimes a fresh conqueror like the Soviet Union.

Although the book is appropriately suspenseful and a delight to read--even the minor characters are distinctive and vividly seen--its most powerful moments are those that describe real horrors. Our narrator recalls that after reading descriptions of Vlad burning young boys or impaling "a large family," she tried to forget the words: "For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me this: history's terrible moments were real. I understand now, decades later, that he could never have told me. Only history itself can convince you of such a truth." The reader, although given a satisfying ending, gets a strong enough dose of European history to temper the usual comforts of the closing words. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:22 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A young woman finds old papers which begin to reveal an ancient and evil plot concerning Vlad the Impaler and the legend of Dracula, which may still be continuing.

» see all 10 descriptions

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