Book Review: The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova


I probably would never have picked up this novel of my own volition, but it was a selection for a book club I am in. Normally I steer clear of fantasy or anything supernatural; they’re just not my style. But although The Historian explores the idea of Dracula still living (that is, being “undead”) in the modern age, it contains enough realism and history that it didn’t pull me too far out of my comfort zone.

Writing The Historian must have been a massive undertaking, requiring tons of research, for Elizabeth Kostova (I read in an interview that she worked on it for ten years!). The book’s characters travel all over Europe to various libraries and monasteries, trying to uncover the truth about the historical Dracula (a.k.a., Vlad Țepeș, a.k.a., Vlad the Impaler) and why he seems to be affecting certain people in the present.

Because the book constantly transitions between narrators with very few introducing phrases, it can be challenging to keep track of who is speaking. This is not a casual read. I had to give it focused attention and only read it after my kids went to bed, as it doesn’t lend itself to interruptions.

Overall, I think The Historian is exciting and well-written, but I did feel like it got bogged down in details after the halfway point. The action does, however, pick up again about 75-100 pages from the end.

I am marking this book off as “A novel longer than 400 pages” for the #VTReadingChallenge.


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