The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian Book CoverGoodreads Synopsis

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.

I like this book cover better.   Backhand Index Pointing Right: Light Skin Tone on Google Android 10.0 March 2020 Feature Drop



It is a truth universally acknowledged that a book overly-hyped will most probably fall flat for Hina

Yep, I made that just now because I love that book and the fact mentioned is true.

Back to the book in question.

The Historian

The Historian was recommended to me by Ms Faiqa Mansab (author of This House of Clay and Water) and then by Ms Wajeeha Zuberi when I was looking for books with titles beginning with H.

They spoke highly of the book and I decided to give this a go.

The Historian is based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is also an open secret that I did not really like that book and you can read all about that in my review of that book.

The Historian is in the first person narrative. First person narrative of not just one person at that. As a reader I had to be vigilant (less so than other people as I was listening to the audiobook as I read along on my Kindle) at all times so as not to miss when the point of view changed.

Before I started the book, I knew it was about vampires but after having read it, I’d say that the book is not about vampires. It is more about the legend behind the legend of the vampires (if that made any sense). Rather than there be anything about the disaster wrought by Dracula or any other vampire, the book focuses on the destruction wrought by living beings; be that the Vlad of Wallachia or Sultan Mehmed of the Ottomans.

On one hand where we are shown that Paul and Helen have defeated Dracula and on the other hand Dracula is shown to be a great strategist. His one and main strategy in the book fails him mightily. This makes me even doubt the evilness of Dracula who by the way refers to himself as a scholar in the book.

As the book deals with the folklore about Dracula and is  putting it into the history of our real world, I am not sure of how much actual history has been taken into account in the writing of the book as facts must have been altered to accommodate Dracula in places.

It is true that history is always written by the winners and every point of view of any certain event will differ person to person but as I read the book I had this feeling that maybe (I am saying maybe because I am not sure) Ms Kostova has a bias against Islam and I say this based on the words used by her characters regarding the faith. Words I have never heard uttered by people of other faith or seen in any written document by any other faith.

In all the history and the historical facts (which may or may not all be true – I have to read some non-fiction to ascertain that), what I liked best were the descriptions of the places her characters visited. The visualization was strongest at the points when Kostova was painting pictures of places. In those places it felt as if I was reading Dan Brown whose work I have admired for a long time. I believe these were the saving graces for the book which otherwise had plot holes.

Plot holes with no explanations to them whatsoever at any point in the story which I believe to be a flaw because this is a standalone novel with no follow-ups and thus there should not be any loose-ends. I am not writing them in here because I don’t want to include spoilers.

The Audiobook

As I mentioned earlier, I listened to and read the  book side by side. The audio book narration was by Justine Eyre and Paul Michael. I loved their narration; especially Michael’s. Both of them did justice to the various dialects in the book.

Overall (and specially on account of the narration in the audiobook), I’d give this one 3 stars.

5 thoughts on “The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

  1. bookriot_anjedah says:

    Nice review. But I Am kind of sad that you don’t like it. it’s my one of the most favorite book because the protagonist is dealing with the historical archive to find where about of Dracula and I am a sucker for historical archives . and mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

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