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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Historian

Author: Kostova, Elizabeth
Originally Published: 2005
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova Ah, the search for Dracula. Definitely not the first of those sorts of stories, but with a bit of a different twist.

The story is told through a series of stores and letters told/written by Paul to his daughter, explaining to her the story behind a book she found in her father’s library – a book that is completely blank except for an image of a dragon in the center. The stories tell of how Rossi, Paul’s advisor at university, disappears, and the ensuing search Paul goes on to find him, all the while being persued by vampires who want him to stop the search. Paul is accompanied by Helen, Rossi’s daughter, and the story is as much a tale of Dracula as it is of the love story between Paul and Helen (quite beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time).

I have mixed feelings about this book. Really mixed feelings.

I have always had a very impressionable mind. A very active imagination. I cannot watch scary movies because I won’t be able to sleep afterwards for days. Books, however, normally don’t bother me to the extent where I lose sleep. I don’t think a book has given me nightmares in a long time. And then along came The Historian, and I couldn’t sleep most nights for fear that vampires would appear in my apartment. Needless to say, it took me a very long time to read this book as I couldn’t read it past dark.

On the other hand, it was dripping with atmosphere. The writing was fabulous; things fell into place a little bit too easily for me, but it helped the story move along a little bit faster. It was, quite possibly, the perfect book for this challenge. A lot of the vampire books I’ve been reading lately are very much the sort of book where vampires aren’t as bad as they should be – they make vampires more romantic and sensual. This one certainly didn’t romanticize the monsters, and that certainly impressed me.

I also really enjoyed how it brought those blank books (with the exception of the image of the dragon in the center) into the story. I love why all these people were given the books, and who gave the books to them, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read The Historian yet.

I guess I am officially finished the RIP challenge, but there are still a couple of other books that I want to read before the end of the challenge, so I’m just going to keep on plugging away and hopefully get rid of a few more books that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 5:18 pm September 25, 2007.
Category: Speculative Fiction
Book Author(s):

  • Chris

    Glad you enjoyed it court :) It was quite an eerie book and I agree that it was just the perfect book for this challenge. I really enjoyed it as well and loved it for the same reasons as you….the atmosphere, the scenery, the love story, the vampires ;) Keep plugging away! I’m enjoying your reviews :)

  • Framed

    I just read this book as well and liked it for much of the same reasons. It did have great atmosphere! Congratulations on finishing the challenge. I still have one more official read to go with two possibles lurking in the corners.

  • Court

    Chris – You were totally right about it not being as scary after the first 300 pages, but it did get a little bad near the end again. :)

    Framed – Thanks! Haha, there are always more lurking in the corners, aren’t there? :)

  • Danielle

    I really liked this one, too, though I thought she might have gotten to Dracula a little sooner than she did. You could tell she did lots of research though.

  • Court

    Danielle – Yeah, she did do a lot of research. I felt like I was learning while reading this book. ;)

  • jenclair

    I loved this one. It is all Gothic, but beautifully contemporary.

  • michelle

    I’m in the middle of reading it right now and you’re right, I keep looking over my shoulder for creepy people.
    I am really enjoying it though. It’s our group read for this month so pop over and join in when the questions go up.

  • lightheaded

    I read it more than a year ago and yet I can still recall how it made me look over my shoulder a lot wherever I was the whole time I was reading it. I actually felt someone was watching me. Really creepy.

    I guess it’s time to reread it. Hahaha!

  • Lazy Cow

    It was one of the first books I read this year and I just adored it. It was for my bookgroup and three of us felt that way, the fourth person read 100 pages and refused to read any more. Just hated it. Apparently a fairly common reaction too!

  • jmfausti

    I was at odds about this book myself. I think the ‘evil librarian’ and the fact that instead of undead sex slaves, Dracula is forming a think tank who can read forever made the book for me. I’m not sure how I felt about the narrative, but I loved that it felt like a travelogue of a fascinating place that I would never get around to visiting. I tend to sway more toward tropical isles with sandy beaches.

  • Court

    jenclair – It’s always nice when the author can contemporize the gothic type of novel, isn’t it? :)

    Michelle – I’ll definitely drop by and join in when the questions go up this month.

    lightheaded – Haha, yeah that is creepy. I don’t think I would enjoy the feeling of someone watching me read! :)

    Lazy Cow – Hated it? Wow. I can see how someone might not want to make it past the first 100 pages, but I didn’t realize that a lot of people hated it. Did you hear why they hated it so much?

    jmfausti – It’s almost enough to make one want to become a vampire if it means you could spend the rest of eternity reading, isn’t it? ;)

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment about Me & Mr. Darcy. I am currently about seventy pages into The Historian for the RIP challenge and like what I’ve read so far. Hasn’t scared the heck out of me yet, although we will see! Oh, and if you like the romantic vampire type, check out Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

  • Court

    Stephanie – I hope you continue to like The Historian. The first 300 pages are the scariest, so if you don’t get scared by them, you probably won’t get scared by any of it. :)

  • Pardon_My_French

    Thanks for your comment! I’m now adding this book to my library TBR pile when I get back home for a visit. I’ve just checked in and haven’t read a lot of your posts yet, but I’ve also heard a lot about Twilight (in case you haven’t read it).

  • Nymeth

    I really love the idea of a book that would actually disturb me. It’s been a while since I read one of those. I really need to pick this one up.