10.19.2011

The Historian


“As a historian, I have learned that, in fact, not everyone who reaches back into history can survive it. And it is not only reaching back that endangers us; sometimes history itself reaches inexorably forward for us with its shadowy claws.”

I haven't reviewed a book in awhile not because I forgot, but because I have been reading this one. The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova was a large literary journey for me not only because of its length (900+ pages) but because of the way it is written and its density. After all of my sisters and my mom finished it with raving reviews however, I knew I needed to read it for myself and I don't regret a page.

It is a book about Dracula - or rather, two young historians and their search for Dracula. It was dangerous and enticing at times, but also very philosophical and thoughtful in its approach. I knew vaguely that Dracula was based off of Vlad Tepes sometime in the 1400's, but there is so much more to that story. How he would impale his enemies and even followers violently. How he created an extensive following based off of The Order of the Dragon, and how he vowed to live forever (in history at least.) It definitely puts The Twilight series to shame, because to me, the Twilight series did a poor job of frightening the reader. In that series, vampires are protectors who suck the blood of animals and protect humans whereas in this more realistic novel, vampires are much more terrifying, and their existence much more believable.Of course mixed in with the historical research and escapades (which at times were a little dry to me,) was a love story that I found sweet and realistic.

One problem I had with the book though, was that it mixed fact with fiction. It was difficult for me to decipher what was real and what was fabricated, which was frustrating. I would have liked some kind of foreword or note from the author clearing up what was real or not. After I read it I googled Vlad Tepes trying to learn more about his real life, but I would have liked that to be more clear in the book.

Otherwise, it was a great read. Ambitious, but intriguing and by the end I really loved the characters. I would recommend reading it if you have a large stretch of time to read - say, a vacation or a long plane ride.

Have you read The Historian? What did you think?

5 comments:

Brittany said...

I'm convinced--which actually takes a lot considering my general disdain for fantasy and and supernatural lit (with the exception of HP of course).

Picking this up on Saturday.

Kyle & Kaylee said...

I read it a couple of years ago. Overall it was a very good read, it took me a few chapters to really get into it though. However, once I was into it I had a hard time putting it down. It is much more well written than the Twilight books, and the fact that she ties it to real historical characters makes it very fascinating. I also agree about the fact vs. fiction- it was frustrating trying to decipher what was real (I did a lot of googling as well after I finished it).

Alex said...

I've had this book for some time now and have never got around to reading it. Definitely need to start it soon!

Lorina said...

I read this book in high school and the first 100 pages were boring, but after that I was hooked. I remember staying up until 4am in the morning reading this book! It's one of my favorites, because it has romance, adventure, history, and I suspense. I love it!! The author came out with a recent book- I haven't read it, but it looks just as good as the historian.

Maddy said...

Have you read Dracula? I was thinking about reading it in celebration of Halloween, but maybe reading this one first would be a perfect precursor.