18 May 2022

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is the last of the February Mobile Library books. I did read it back in March before the A-Z Challenge. 

'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'. (Good Reads)

This was a very very long book, at the beginning I was enjoying it, learning about the different people involved in the story. They are on the quest for Vlad the Impaler's tomb. There are three groups of letters and oral accounts, one set of letters written in the 1930s by Paul's mentor, Professor Rossi, the second written by Paul himself in telling of his adventures in the 1950s, and the third the oral narrative of the 16 year old daughter of Paul, who is never named, set in the 1970s.  

I got rather fed up with the letters,  how they were suddenly found and read. I suppose it was one way the author could tell the story rather than using dual or more timelines as in other books I have read recently. It is well written and researched, I  did start to believe that Dracula was real, and the book was fact rather than fiction, but I got to about 2/3s and then I had had enough.

P.S. There is another from that collection of library books, I have not yet posted a review for, The Heretics Mark by S W Perry. This is the fourth in a series. I am afraid I did not get around to reading it and as it had to be returned as it had been requested by someone else I had to return it.  I did listen to the first in the series The Angel's Mark on Borrowbox. The series is known as The Jackdaw Mysteries and is set in Elizabethan London.  Physician Nicholas Shelby is the protagonist and in the first one, he investigates several murders, along the way he is joined by Bianca, a beautiful and mysterious innkeeper, (the inn is called The Jackdaw).  It was ok but not a patch on C J Sansom's Shardlake series. I will give The Heretics Mark and the others a go sometime.


  1. Hari OM
    Sometimes we just have to let books go, is it not so? I am not sure either of these captures my interest, but I appreciate your finding that out for me!!! YAM xx

  2. I truly hated Kostova’s book! I haven’t hated a book so much since the DaVinciCode and American Psycho. The amount of things that were wrong made me so constantly angry I had to stop reading and put it in the bin!!
    Sansom’s Shardlake is a lovely book companion.

    1. I was glad I did not spend any money on getting the book too. I haven't read either of the other two you mention, I had often though I would like to read some of Dan Brown's books, but shall not bother now, I'll stick to the films.