Book #32 – The Historian – the end
Before we get into this I just need to, umm..WOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! I FINISHED! FINALLY!!
Okay, now that I have that over with, let’s get down to business.
The most basic summary I can give for Kostova’s The Historian is that it is a search for the grave of Vlad Tepes, known worldwide as Dracula. This search, however, is not just a search through ancient cities and crypts, it’s a journey through documents and letters. A search in which those involved aren’t in danger in dark alleyways, but in libraries pouring over mysterious texts.
Kostova does a wonderful job weaving together the stories of a number of different people from a number of different time periods to make a unified story line. The story centers on three time periods – a 17-year old in the 70’s, her parents in the 50s, and her father’s mentor in the 30s. But quite a few other people join in now and then to add their 2 cents. The chapters constantly switch from one point of view to another without getting confusing or without, for the most part, interrupting the pace of the book. The stories are told through letters, oral accounts, and historical documents, some of which are fiction and some are not. Kostova has mixed so much fact with fiction that at times it’s hard to know what is true and what isn’t. A wonderful combination!
I’m too much of a wimp for scary books, and this was just the right level of creepiness for me. There isn’t enough gruesomeness to give you nightmares, but vampires lurking in the shadows will sneak undetected into your dreams. Kostova sets the mood with a sinister undertone early in the book and keeps it up throughout.
However, I somehow made Dracula seem a little less sinister because for some reason I couldn’t get this image out of my head:
The descriptions of “long, curling, dark hair,” “the long straight nose,” and “wiry, dark mustache” were suppose to instill this picture:
But once I had Hook in my head, the real thing was lost on me.
Anyway…back to the real details of the book. Kostova’s attention to detail is fantastic. She makes everything from the texture of the documents to the noisy streets of Istanbul so real. I especially enjoyed her descriptions of Budapest and the Romanian countryside, as those are the only two places in the book I’ve been to. I could almost taste the delicious Hungarian bread that is served with every meal.
I’ve got to mention something about the size. Yes it is enormous (the mass market paperback I have is 800+ pages), and yes it is daunting. If the book hadn’t already been sitting in our house for months I probably wouldn’t have read it. And true, near the end I was getting a bit antsy for it to be over already. BUT, that being said, I’m really glad I did read it. I very much enjoyed the story and the various characters that played a part in it, both historical and fictional. Plus, the mood was perfect for the beginning of fall!
My rating: 8.5/10