The Historian – Book Review

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.

Buy these books on Amazon:
The Historian
Dracula (Barnes & Noble Classics)
Vlad the Impaler: In Search of the Real Dracula

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5 Responses to “The Historian – Book Review”

  1. fyreflybooks Says:

    I really enjoyed The Historian as well, although for me it started to drag a little bit about 3/4 of the way through – when they’re in the ninth country on their seventeenth tip-off to find the thirty-fourth obscure manuscript which will give them their eleventy millionth clue, I started wanting Kostova to get on with it. 🙂

    I listened to this one in audiobook – the readers (one male and one female) both did really nice jobs with the various Eastern European accents. Although, I typically listen to a bit of audiobook before bed (story time!) and this one was too creepy, especially some of the early parts with abducted librarians and blood-spattered ceilings. Eesh.

  2. Dracula - Book Review « Devourer of Books’ Weblog Says:

    […] Devourer of Books’ Weblog Memoirs of a Ravenous Reader « The Historian – Book Review […]

  3. kegsoccer Says:

    I’ve thought about buying this, but I never really got around to doing so– I think because it’s gotten such mixed reviews on But since you liked it, I’ll add it to my TBR pile.

  4. May Reading Wrap-Up « Devourer of Books’ Weblog Says:

    […] The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – Buy on Amazon […]

  5. Drum Roll Please… « Devourer of Books’ Weblog Says:

    […] 22 different books were requested.  The most requested book was “The Historian,” followed closely by “Year of Wonders” and then “The Zookeeper’s […]

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