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The Historian by [Kostova, Elizabeth]
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The Historian Kindle Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 721 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product 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.
Elizabeth Kostova's debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions - a captivating tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful - and utterly unforgettable.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1704 KB
  • Print Length: 721 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New Ed edition (6 June 2010)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,658 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Format: Kindle Edition
Read it soon after publication date and enjoyed it". Had heard book rights sold for millions and have been waiting for the movie ever since...... Not much action from the author since either?
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Format: Kindle Edition
I really wanted to like this book. It was an unfolding mystery involving old books and book collectors that played out across generations. And the central character had been amassing his library for centuries, driven by some dark obsession that was both frighteningly familiar to book lovers and twisted by his own evil nature. I envisioned something that might have been written collaboratively by Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles) and Alberto Manguel (The Library at Night), combining the long-lived, selfish wisdom of the vampire accented by an appreciation of the long histories of books in their collections.

It isn't a bad book, really. It just doesn't live up to its potential. The suspense-building in the first part of the book is well written. The writer's technique of using excerpts from old letters and journals creates an atmosphere of aged documents, dusty and obscure. And is specifically reminds readers of Bram Stoker's Dracula, by recreating this classic vampire tale's epistolary style. I didn't even mind the extensive treatment of medieval monks and their migration patterns, being sure that I was moving slowly toward a memorable encounter with an evil, but complex and interesting Dracula. One that would raise him to the level of a Lestat or a Memnoch.

And there is the great disappointment. Vlad Tepes is more a cartoon monster than a memorable personage. His long existence has not produced any insights or perspective, even twisted by selfish evil. There is no purpose, or even sense to the evil he wants to inflict on the world.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 2,249 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Homage to Stoker's Dracula is a good read 30 October 2016
By Mrs. Arkadin - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Relying heavily on found written accounts and correspondence, The Historian is an homage to Stoker's novel as much as a retelling of the Dracula legend. The characters and the way they are drawn in to the reality and threat of vampires to all who uncover their existence is engrossing. The reader also gets to know these vampire hunters much better than Stoker's statues of Victorian manly and womanly virtue. Unfortunately I found another similarity between The Historian and Dracula; an engrossing brisk beginning turns into a slog to find out how it ends. Too many teary moments, internal monologues about the anguish being experienced and every incidental local encountered warrants a paragraph of physical description. I recommend this book to anyone who likes gothic horror novels, especially about vampires which are vampires, and not unfortunate folk condemned to an appetite for blood and the nocturnal restrictions and alienation the come with it.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slllllooooooooooowww 4 December 2014
By John Lawson - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A historian discovers a mysterious book. Within are clues to its origins, and those clues point to... Dracula. A multi-generational vampire hunt ensues.

This is a beautifully written book, doggedly faithful to the Gothic horror stylings of Stoker's _DRACULA_. Enough so, that this could be considered a sequel of sorts. _DRACULA_ actually plays an important role to this story, as it is revealed to be more truth than fiction.

That said, this book is dull. No, that's not fair. It's not dull. It's slow, and that's a different thing from dull. But it's slow. Slllllooooooooooowww... If your idea of action is a couple skinny historians wrestling in the back stacks of a dusty library, if a leisurely train ride across eastern Europe counts as a chase scene, if you need something to unwind with after a hectic day of reading federal tax code, then this is the book for you.

But it IS a beautifully written book, and slow as it was, I'd have given it a higher score if it weren't for many, many unforgivable warts:

This book is written primarily as a series of endless letters and journal entries, authored by one set of Dracula hunters and being read by others (to us, I suppose, as a form of memoirs). Actually, there are layers of journals being read here. A contemporary Drac hunter is telling her tale, which involves reading from an earlier Drac hunter's letters, which involves reading from another guy's letters... which I think might even include an even earlier set. There's a LOT of letters to be read. And being that this is a novel, all of them are written with sufficient detail and dialog to carry the narrative. But every once in a while, I was reminded that I'm reading a letter. A LETTER. Who the heck writes a 100 page letter, much less a 300 page letter??? That someone would write with such detail is completely preposterous (much less that ALL of them would), and it always pulled me out of the story.

And clearly, there was no sense of urgency here. Even in the scenes where the guy is being hunted by the vampires. "I can hear them right now, outside my window, they are coming for me... blah blah." Apparently, despite being in imminent fear of his life, he still had the time to write 10 more pages of useless details before fleeing. Yeah, that makes sense.

So, at its foundation, the premise is tantalizing. A mysterious book is found--given--to a character, and no matter what they do, they can't get rid of it. Who gave it to them? (Who keeps giving it back to them?) It is old, and its pages empty except for a dragon woodcut in the center. So they follow the clues of the woodcut... and here's where the book starts to come apart. These blank books are clearly nothing more than MacGuffins, devices with no purpose other than to drive the quest (and the plot). At one point, the printing operation where these books are created is revealed. Nonetheless, even early in the story, they seemed silly and unnecessary to me. Everything in the quest was driven by the woodcut image. Why bother with the rest of the empty book?

The quest itself is problematic. Spurred by the receipt of the books, the researchers begin to investigate, but once they start, shadowy forces commence to interfere. And they aren't subtle: intimidation, vandalism, theft, assault, even murder. The story strongly infers that it was the vampires that delivered the books, and it is the vampires that are clearly trying to stop the investigations. What the heck is that all about?

Ultimately, it is explained, although you have to wade through nearly 85% of the book to reach it. Dracula finally makes his appearance, and like a moustache-twirling movie villain, he lays out his entire nefarious scheme. And it's preposterous. Well, at the very least, I found it deeply unsatisfying and disappointing. You'd think a guy who's lived 500 years would understand human nature better and could come up with a better plan (or have higher goals). I couldn't help but sense that the author had run out of steam.

But even more frustrating was, as I started this book, my very first question was, "If the vampires handed out the book, why are they trying to stop these people?" And at every point throughout, I kept looking for answers. But you know who never did? The researchers! Not once, ever, did they ever ask, "Hey, why did they give us this and then are trying to stop us?" And these are supposed to be brilliant researchers and historians and scholars and people a lot smarter than I. I can't explain this other than that either it was a failure by the author (deliberate or not) or everyone one of her characters for some reason suffered from the same undiagnosed form of brain damage that fundamentally hindered their ability to do their jobs. (As mentioned earlier, Drac does explain himself, but his explanation is stupid.)

Drac himself was a bit of a disappointment. After so much build up on how evil and cool this guy is, when we finally meet him, I was underwhelmed. So was the author, it seemed, as she was unable to convey to him any sense of power or dread. She could only simply tell us "He was powerful," "He was dreadful," "This is one seriously scary dude."

And his ultimate undoing... well, suffice to say, for a guy in life who had an uncanny knack for escaping tight situations and avoiding ambushes, I guess he lost his edge in his undeath.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorite books 18 February 2017
By Jennifer S - Published on
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This was the first "adult" novel I read as a child, and it's still a book I come bakc to over and over as one of my favorites. I absolutely love fantasy novels that are heavily grounded in history and this book covers such a unique area of history, and accurately. The writing is superb and manages to stitch together multiple timelines seamlessly. It covers bits of history from Vlad the Impaler (the original inspiration for Dracula), the history of vampire lore, and some history of the USSR. It also doesn't put vampires in a romantic light like so many books do nowadays but makes them genuinely scary.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Epistolary Extreme 22 April 2017
By Angela Smith - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At the outset I would've given this book at 5 star review, but about the time I hit 60%, my impression of Kostova declined from thinking she had produced a work in the same vein as _Frankenstein_ and _Dracula_ to thinking she had rendered a lazy imitation of either. I can willingly suspend my disbelief to enjoy the plot line, but the letters.... Argh, the letters! Who hurriedly writes a letter with so much needless description and dialogue when he is pursuing or being pursued by Dracula?

Probably the most interesting narrative is the girl who begins the story, but Kostova seems to forget her right after she and her friend Barley begin their journey. She returns ever so briefly and clumsily to their journey and budding relationship.

Still, overall I liked the book. I probably wouldn't read another by this author, but the plot kept me fairly engaged even while the narrative style proved rather annoying.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was brilliantly written. 16 February 2017
By She's Going Book Crazy - Published on
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I first came across this book when my friend and I were making paper roses for her wedding decorations out of old books. She had picked this book out for its beautifully "marshmallow" aged pages - where the edges have turned a hue of golden brown. We were gluing the petals together when I saw the word "Dracula." I immediately thought, "What have we done?!" Reading the description of the book, I knew I would eventually have to read it.

My interest in Dracula and Romanian lore, first peaked after reading Bram Stoker's Dracula. Then, ironically, I ended up marrying my husband, who was born and raised not 30 minutes from Castelul Bran, or better known as Dracula's castle.

Enough about me, and onto the book review...

This book was brilliantly written.

I loved everything about this book. Yes, it is long, and takes a bit for the plot line to pick up in the beginning. But, the endurance reading is totally worth it. Kostova doesn't waste any words that she wrote, all having meaning and importance. For anyone who likes a meaty text, packed full of detail, historic locations and all-encompassing plot lines, this is for you.

And please note, this is not about the Twilight-type vampires that are so prominent in today's literature. This is a twist off of the original "Dracula" novel, dedicated to the story of Vlad Tepes of Wallachia.