Let me just begin by pointing out the creepy face on the cover of this book. Creepy, creepy, creepy. This is at least the third time I’ve read this book, and the first time I’ve ever noticed the face on the cover. Evidently I’m not always the most observant…
“The Historian,” by Elizabeth Kostova, is the story of a group of people who discover that Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Dracula, still walks the earth as a vampire. The story takes place in the ‘present’ of the 1970s, as well as through stories and letters of the 1950s and the 1930s. The main narrator is a teenage girl who lives with her American diplomat father in Amsterdam. Her father narrates the portions set in the 1950s, and his mentor Bartolomew Rossi’s letters describe the events of the ’30s.
The narrator’s father, Paul, is forced to relive his discovery of Dracula’s extant nature and the memories of his search for his mentor, who vanishes under bizarre circumstances, when his daughter discovers an old book in his library. The book is completely blank, save for a woodprint in the center and the word Drakula. Through Paul’s stories, we are taken both through Paul’s journey and through Rossi’s original discovery of the existence of Dracula.
I have read this book multiple times and each time I cannot put it down. The way Kostova weaves together fact and fiction is incredible. Additionally, it is one of those books that is written with an introduction by the main character that introduces the book as if it was a memoir. Those books are somehow the easiest for which to suspend disbelief, even about a supernatural subject like this one. Reading this book alongside Bram Stoker’s “Dracula“, as well M.J. Trow’s “Vlad the Impaler” gave me an even greater appreciation for this book. It became obvious that Ms. Kostova had not only done her research, but she had essentially created a modern day version of “Dracula.” She manages to recreate many of the same elements as Stoker, without simply ‘updating’ his story.