Apologies to all readers, but this post should have gone up the same day as Feast of Fools and I had issues with photos, then busy life took over for a couple of weeks! Better late than never…
It is a good job it was half term, or I don’t think I could have read this quite so rapidly. The Historian was definately my longest book so far this year at just over 700 pages long. A lot of those pages involved long and wordy descriptions and sometimes extremely wordy historical information. However, I couldn’t help but love this book. Looking at Goodreads, I would say this must be a bit of a marmite book. Many are saying they wished they hadn’t bothered, but do you know what? I’m glad I bothered. I’m glad I read 700 plus pages, because I consider Elizabeth Kostova’s debut to be a good book. At the very least, you would have to give her this: it is well written, and it seems to be painstakingly well researched.
You see, The Historian, told by a young female narrator, whose name we do not know, is about the pursuit of knowledge, and more importantly the pursuit of Dracula. How could I not like a book involving Dracula? Well, that would be hard. I also really loved the way she told it. The narrator finds an old book, with mostly blank pages in her father’s collection, and asks him about it. It is a story within a story within a story this one! Her father reluctantly tells her his story, which is firstly the story of his mentor at University who vanished one day. The professor’s story is told through his letters, then her Dad’s subsequent quest is told through his letters. There are also letters from her mother. I loved the way the plots were all woven together and intermingled. I think you can tell from that description that if you don’t like letters then this isn’t the book for you!
I have only one complaint about Kostova’s well crafted opus. The ending. I won’t spoil it, but wow, if you have just written nearly 700 pages, could you please not just tail off into the abyss and leave us with a one page anti-climax. This is the one and only problem I have with The Historian, and I can’t decide whether it demotes this book from an 8/10 to a 7/10. I’m going to give it 8, because I was gripped, and I really enjoyed devouring this book.
I have decided that this will be my Historical Mystery for the Eclectic Reader challenge, so that is two categories ticked off now.