Friday, January 18, 2008


The Historian by Elizabeth Kostovo

Saturday, September 22, 2007
Three Challenges in One

How wonderful that this book fits three of the challenges I've entered. It's great when you read a really good book and find so many reason to write about it.

Unread Athors Challenge It's unbelievable that this is Kostovo's first novel. She writes so beautifully with fantastic attention to detail, wonderful descriptive phrases and such in-depth characterization. She took the old tale of "Dracula" by Bram Stoker and expanded it into a gripping and fascinating story of evil. With all its emphasis on tracking down Dracula and the accompanying terror involved in that chase, the book also includes a beautiful romance and a father/daughter relationship that was so touching. Since most of the main characters are historians, I found myself wondering which one was the namesake of the novel. The answer to that question was just one of many twists and turns that made this book such a great read.

Armchair Traveler Challenge Tracking down vampires takes the characters on journeys to many countries in Europe. Through Kostovo's unique travelogue, I found myself reading about the wonders of Istanbul, the majesty of the Carpathian and Pyrenees Mountains, the age-old beauties of Budapest, Hungary and Bucharest, Romania, and the timelessness of Oxford University. I liked her portrayal of the people living in Eastern Europe under a Communist regime in the 1950's. Kostovo doesn't preach but manages to show how repressive these governments were while also displaying the warmth, friendliness, and humanity of the regular people who lived there. I have now added Istanbul, Budapest, and Bucharest to my list of places I'd like to visit.

R.I.P Challenge The main reason I decided to read "The Historian," aside from the fact it's been on my bookshelf for months, is for this spooky challenge. For someone who hates scary movies and things that make me jump, I have found a whole new genre of great books that I have been avoiding. Just like Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere," "The Historian is an incredibly well-written book. The atmosphere of the book is so menacing that you can almost hear the scary music in the background. Kostovo builds a scenario for this book that almost makes you believe that vampires, and Dracula in particular, really exist. The historical touches are so well done. And for some reason, reading about vampires doesn't spook me like a movie would, so I was able to enjoy the atmosphere so skillfully created and the tensions as the story builds to its ending.

Slight quibbles with this book: The novel is 642 pages long. I really enjoyed it most of the way through and then started being a little tired of it. So I would like it about a hundred pages shorter although I can't imagine what she could have left out. And even though I thought it was too long, I found the final confrontation to be resolved too quickly. That said, I still would call this my favorite of the R.I.P Challenge so far.

Rating: 4.75

Posted by Framed at 3:04 PM

Becky said...
I am reading this one right now. I only have about a hundred and fifty pages to go. It is very good.

9/22/2007 4:36 PM
3M said...
Wow! Might have to read this at some point.

9/22/2007 5:43 PM
Literary Feline said...
I am so glad you enjoyed this one, Framed! It was one of my favorites last year and had quite an effect on me.

Excellent review, by the way. I like how you addressed each challenge while discussing the book.

9/22/2007 5:56 PM
Chris said...
What a great review Framed! I feel the same way about this book. I absolutely loved her descriptions of the different locations of their travels. I would've never thought of these cities as places I'd like to visit, but I certainly would after having read this book. I couldn't get over the fact that this was her first novel. It really was so well written. I agree that it was a bit long, but like you said, I couldn't for the life of me think of what she could leave out! Great book, glad you enjoyed it!

9/22/2007 9:10 PM
Eva said...
I enjoyed the parts discussing communism as well. Glad to see another person who loved the book! Lately, I've been seeing some who didn't like it, and it made me sad. lol

9/22/2007 9:57 PM
Booklogged said...
What an excellent review, Framed. You express yourself so well. I agree with Literary Feline about how you address each challenge with a paragraph describing the book. I usually don't get 'creeped out' when reading a book, but this one did creep me at places. Absolutely love it and can't wait for her next book.

9/23/2007 1:25 PM
SuziQoregon said...
Clearly this is going to be this year's RIP book that I have to read soon.

It's been on my TBR list for a while, but it's moving up to the read soon list quickly

9/23/2007 9:05 PM
Cassie said...
This makes me even more excited to read this. I might have to finish up my other books really fast and read this to get me in the Halloween mood.

9/24/2007 8:48 AM
Kristina said...
I love your reviews, you are always so thorough. Even though I've read this book, I found myself hanging on your every word like I was going to have to run out and buy the book. Anyway, I'm glad you loved it, so did I. I have never been scared by a book or "creeped out" like booklogged, but this novel did it to me! I absolutely loved it!!

9/24/2007 12:07 PM
Stephanie said...
This is one of those books that are so polarizing. People love it or hate it!!

I'm glad to see you liked it!

9/24/2007 1:14 PM
hellomelissa said...
i also really enjoyed this book. kept me on the edge of my seat for almost a week!

9/24/2007 4:36 PM
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
Great review! I absolutely want to dig out my copy again for another read!

9/25/2007 11:42 AM
Cath said...
Excellent review! I loved it too and found, like you, that the travelling aspect fascinated me as much as the vampire theme. Unusual in a fiction book. I think I'm going to have to read it again one day as I'm sure there's more to be gleaned from a second read.

9/25/2007 4:47 PM
jenclair said...
There were a few slow spots, but I loved this novel!

9/26/2007 3:13 PM
gautami tripathy said...
I like long books! Gotta pick it up!

9/29/2007 9:02 AM
Rhinoa said...
Everyone seems to love this book and now that I have read Dracula I must get around to it...

10/03/2007 7:51 AM
Nymeth said...
Wonderful review! I really really want to read this book. I'm really drawn to Eastern Europe, so the fact that it's set there makes it even more alluring.

10/08/2007 8:23 AM
alisonwonderland said...
this one is on my RIP list too. i'm hoping to get to it before the end of the month.

10/14/2007 10:34 PM
Bookfool said...
I've avoided this book specifically because of the page count, but I loved your review and the way you described it via the challenges and how it fit within them.

10/15/2007 5:53 PM
Anonymous said...
Read this book back in 2006. Absolutely brilliant read. DaVinci Code eat your heart out. This book is a fantastic historical race through time and makes you think - 'did (or does) dracula exist'? At the start of Chapter 72, a pretty freaky part of the book, and I was reading late into the night (it's the kind of book you can't put down), a neighbours dog started to howl (not bark) outside and it freaked me out. I put the book down for the rest of the night and went to bed. When I finished the book tonight one of the lights in the room started to flicker. Pure coincidence (I hope) but it certainly added to the atmosphere of the book.

Sounds like a cool book to read.
I've read a really good book called Dancing Backward in Paradise by Vera Jane Cook.
Talk about Twists and Turns!
Murder, betrayal - you name it, this book has got it.
I have to recommend it I love it so much.
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