Book Eighty-Nine of 2014: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

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To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.

It is because of this book that I will tell anyone who will listen that they should read Elizabeth Kostova. I haven’t read any of her other books, but The Historian has everything I love.

From that little gush, you have probably guessed that this isn’t the first time I’ve read this book. It’s actually the second time I’ve listened to the audio book. I have it in hardcover too, but listening to it is a totally different experience. Reading the book, you have your own voice changing through the text. The audio book is read through many voices. It’s like listening to a radio play (another thing I love to do).

The Historian is part horror and part historical fiction. You feel the time jump as the main narrator, a woman remembering an important story in her life. That story is a story that had haunted her father for years. When she learns the story piece by piece, she (and the reader) learns more about her father and the haunting truth of a historical figure.

I love vampire stories and this one has the dark feel that Dracula has. Not the romantic story that hollywood likes to portray, but the Dracula who is vicious and is more like a demon than a tortured soul. The vampires are the real deal when it comes to the folklore of vampires. It isn’t one bite and an exchange of blood, but three bites that change a person into the undead.

It’s those little folkloric and historical details that make the book memorable. The narrations make the book feel more alive. Even though the book had a disturbing and dark feel throughout (done well with the accompanying background music. Wish I had the score on its own), I wanted it to be real.

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