The Historian
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The Historian

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  159,009 ratings  ·  11,896 reviews
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 con...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published 2005 by Time Warner Books (first published April 1st 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sparrow
Aug 01, 2009 Sparrow rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Henry James Fans
Recommended to Sparrow by: Laura Rice said not to read it. She was right.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martha
Aug 09, 2008 Martha rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: compulsive letter writers and dull historians
This has got to be one of the most disappointing books I've read in a long time. Although the descriptions of the various eastern European cities are often pretty and atmospheric, my frustration with this book won't let me mark it above one star.

It starts out well; very interesting and suspenseful for about the first 100 pages or so. But as you read it, the book just gets more and more ridiculous. It's about 600 900(!) pages long (which is way, way too long) and I urge anyone reading this book t...more
J
This novel is better than I had any anticipation of it being. I’d seen it among a friend’s luggage then later saw it at the library. Having just come off three weeks of nineteenth century novelists, I thought, Oh, something light would be a nice change. After all, I thought. Vampires. The book is about vampires. And not just any vampire, but the mack daddy himself, Dracula, the real Vlad the Impaler, who turns out to be the undead.

Light reading. Sure. Six hundred and fifty pages of vampires that...more
Elizabeth
Nov 24, 2007 Elizabeth rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: insomniacs and very bored librarians
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle
Jun 23, 2007 Michelle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: bookclub
This is actually the second time I've read this book. For a first novel, it is outstanding. I was completely engrossed in the story. I really love history and the whole Dracula lore. I thought it was a great mix of both. It added a lot of suspense that made me read it with the lights on. I think I read it in about four days, I just couldn't put it down. I will say this though, if you are not really into history or researching, I would skip it. If you are wanting to read it just because it has to...more
Josh
Aug 15, 2008 Josh rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Torturers, both medieval and contemporary
Tentatively, my hand crept towards the mouse. What dark and unholy specter could be contained in other people's reviews of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian?

I was filled with passive-voiced dread as the link was clicked by me. I was horrified to read:

xdragonlady's review:
"My main problem with the book being that the author told the tale from so many different points of view, but that they were each told in first person without giving the reader any notice as to who was telling the tale. [...] I...more
Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)
January 3, 2014

Dear Khanh of 2006,

I am your older, wiser self. Many things will happen in the years that have elapsed before you become the me of today. You will fall in love. You will break hearts. You will get your heart broken (karma's a bitch). You will change jobs. You will graduate from college.

Most importantly, you will become more intelligent, you will learn the art of advanced thinking because really, all college teaches you is how to get good grades by regurgitating textbooks. When you...more
Sabrina
Feb 08, 2008 Sabrina rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Wow, was I ever disappointed in this one! I initially read the dust jacket on one of my many excursions to the book store and was very excited. It had been a long time since I read a really good scary story with vampires. The dust jacket alluded to sleepless nights filled with suspense and horror. I eagerly bought my very own copy and returned home to crawl into bed and begin reading this tale of terror.

Okay, so sometimes books have to start slow. You've got to get the setting right, introduce...more
Stacey
It has been some time since I read this, so my recollections may not be that accurate. I tend to make these decisions (do I like or not like a book?) viscerally, rather than by formula. But I figured that any book that merited my little used "pissed me off" category, deserved an explanation.


The Historian:
Kostova sets her book partly in the 70s, partly in history, and she tries to write in a flowery language, like the great masters of novel from the 19th century- but to me, she really just comes...more
Gena
Jan 11, 2008 Gena rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: stacks
The Historian

By Elizabeth Kostova


Kostova received two million dollars for this debut novel, an almost unheard of sum for an unknown writer, but I’m sure it went a long way in reimbursing her expenses for the research that would have been required to write The Historian. Make no mistake, this is a lush and beautiful book, each passage is fleshed out in detail reminiscent of the grand medieval cathedrals and libraries in which it takes place. The reader is drawn into the past quickly and presented...more
Lara
This book reminded me of the DaVinci code in some ways, but was much more interesting and better written. All of the research and historical documents were fascinating. I was especially interested in the subject matter, because it was about Vlad Ţepeş, the Wallachian (Romanian) prince, who Bram Stoker popularized as Dracula. (Not because I'm interested in vampires, but because I served my mission in Romania and was interested in Vlad himself. Evil and terrible as he was, the Romanians actually a...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

So first, a disclosure: I actually received a free used copy of Elizabeth Kostova's 2005 modern vampire tale The Historian unexpectedly in the mail one day, from author Akmal Shebl at the same time he sent in his own book Prisoners in Paradise for review, not as a bribe I think but rather an example o...more
Alex Telander
THE HISTORIAN BY ELIZABETH KOSTOVA: Welcome to a retelling of Dracula for the twenty-first century, only think much better and more interesting; less of the weak and pitiful women and demanding men; more history and research. Elizabeth Kostova, while no doubt being a very well off person who went to the best schools for writing, has nevertheless spent a long time researching and writing The Historian with the resulting book being little about vampires and undead and more about books and history...more
Shovelmonkey1
Apr 09, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy a liquid lunch
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: charity shop ubiquitousness
Hmmm.
I read this at work and one of the builders in the break room looked over the top of his copy of the Daily Star and asked if this was some sort of "how to" book (he understood that I was an archaeologist and thus interpreted The Historian to be some sort of quick guide to well, being a historian). And I sighed my deepest sigh yet, as another tiny particle of my soul curled up, died and flaked off and floated away into the ether.

Obviously if I was a vampire I wouldn't have to worry about the...more
Moderatrix Lori
Jan 14, 2010 Moderatrix Lori marked it as abandoned
Recommends it for: people who enjoy watching paint dry
I really wanted to like this book but God is it boring as hell. I hate not finishing a book but I just can't waste one more minute reading something akin to watching paint dry. I kept waiting for the story to take off and for something, anything, exciting to happen. This felt like an exercise in cold war geography and a self-indulgent author letting us know how smart she is and how much research she'd done. Who cares?! The premise for this book was really intriguing but the story gets lost in pa...more
Kirsten
Don't let the 2 star rating fool you - I would still recommend this book for fun. POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD.

It strikes me that scholars and graduate students (even sexier!) are now the go-to heroes for this continuing genre of suspenseful historical/mystery/magic quests. Da Vinci Code blah blah blah. That's right, to save the world, one must be a careful reader, and in this book, it struck me as especially humorous that in his infinite evil, Dracula infiltrates the minds of those who can truly com...more
Eileen
If there were negative stars, I would give them to this book. OMG, words fail me.

On second thought..they don't. Let me describe the ways this book sucked.

First off, it sucked because it COULD have been a brilliant book....its IN there...somewhere in the 642 pages. I would venture to say....its about 300 pages too long. At page 201 into the book, it was still plodding along unmercifully.

They way it is written, in first person, is way too choppy. Some chapters are being told by the "dad" characht...more
Traveller

This novel would have done well to have large parts of the first half culled. Although the first half is pleasant enough as a travelogue, especially the Eastern European scenery and impressions of Budapest that we are treated to, it soon began to feel tedious and I was pretty bored by the time the book began to pick up again.

The last third is the best part of the book, so do try and push through until you get there.

The biggest aspect I found to complain about, is that I'd expected a bit more sol...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
I'm disappointed. I wanted to love this book soooo much. I love vampire stories, and I loved Dracula, with its long expository letters and journal entries. I love the idea of historians being drafted by Dracula. But I didn't love this book.
Why? Well, let me tell you:
1)I was annoyed by the fact that we never learn the name of the main character. No, I didn't think that was intriguing. I thought it was annoying.
2) The historic research was dry dry dry, and I dreaded seeing section after section w...more
StoryTellerShannon
Tale focuses on whether Dracula truly still exists in vampire/undead form.

Most of the tale is told through backstory and letters. In itself, this is quite a feat for a novel.

People who appreciate History as well as a mystery with esoteric/intellectual sprinklings will most likely find this tale appealing. There is a great deal of focus on academic types and their personalities as well, so, be sure you want to spend time with such characters.

I found it quite entertaining, and, even though I sk...more
Blair
Meandering, slogging, hair-pulling, mess of a read. The Da Vinci code on crack-cocaine. This book needs to lose some weight. The book started off paced really well but quickly lost steam. The SLLLOOOWWW build up dies in the arms of the final pages, thankfully. By the end of this novel? historical fiction? university dissertation on the Ottoman invasion of the Byzantine empire as seen through the eyes of Dracula enthusiasts? I was ready to be staked through the heart. The one good point was that...more
Brooke
Jun 12, 2007 Brooke rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians
Shelves: 2007, own, horror
What if Vlad Ţepeş, Prince of Wallachia and the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, really was a vampire? Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian explores this question, following three different characters: in the 1930s, Bartholomew Rossi, an English professor, in the 1950s, his protégé Paul, and in the 1970s, Paul's unnamed daughter. Mysterious books and Rossi's disappearance spark a hunt for Dracula's tomb that crisscrosses Europe and lets Kostova use a buttload of historical and geographical re...more
Jane
Where I got the book: purchased on Kindle. A book club read.

I first encountered this book as an audiobook around the time of its release in 2005, and can honestly say I didn't remember a thing about it. I think I simply lost track, because this account of the search for Dracula has three timelines in different time periods, and sometimes you lose sight of one timeline for a considerable chunk of the book. Extremely confusing in an audiobook, a bit less so in print.

This is one of those incredibly...more
Jason Huffman-black
I really need to give a reason that this book received such a low rating from me.

First, I want to say that the majority of the book was amazing. It was mysterious, and the descriptions were vivid. the author pulled me totally into this story. This book is over 700 pages and I rushed through it to find out what the great mystery was...only to be disappointed by a silly and rushed ending. I felt so robbed that I was tempted to throw this massive book but knew it would do a great deal of damage.

I...more
Werner
May 24, 2012 Werner rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of supernatural fiction, esp. vampire fiction
Recommended to Werner by: Jennifer, a friend at work
Note, 5/24/2012: I originally hid this whole review behind a spoiler alert; but now that Goodreads has a "hide spoiler" feature, I decided to use that, and take the part of the review that isn't a spoiler out of hiding.

If Kostova had ended this homage to the original Dracula without the epilogue, she would have created the greatest vampire novel of all time. There is much to admire here: the depth and scope of the plotting, the superb characterizations, the skillful way the author emulates Stok...more
Sandi
I can't believe I read the whole thing. I mean, I really can't believe I read the whole thing. 679 pages of sheer boredom, style over substance. It didn't even pick up until around page 500. (It went from a snail's pace to a turtle's pace.) Dracula, the guy everyone is looking for, doesn't show up until somewhere around page 600. When he does show up, he is a total bore. How on earth can one make Dracula boring? This whole story could have filled 300 pages and been much more engaging and excitin...more
Parvathy
1.5 stars

Confused is the one word that describes this book. Who is more confused the characters or the readers, I am not sure. Maybe it is my ignorance that made this book reading venture unsatisfying, but in my defence I was not aware that I had to brush up on some history before diving in to this book. The writing was confusing and the descripitions so unnecessary that I was leafing through the pages like a mindless puppet most of the time. Reading for the sake of reading, that was what
I was...more
Cheryl
One thing's for sure: this book will have you curious about Bram Stoker's Dracula. That is, if you're like me, possibly one of a few who hasn't read the book, seen the movie, or even been a bit interested in the story. This is not the first thing that will reel you into this book though. For me, it was the young bookish girl being raised by her diplomat-father, the distinct voice of the fifty-something-year-old woman looking back to her younger years.

Though I must admit, there is something abou...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
Jul 20, 2009 colleen the contrarian ± (... never stop fighting) ± rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to colleen the contrarian ± (... never stop fighting) ± by: coworker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
K.D. Absolutely
The first third of the book is boring. The action builds up only on the second. The third is exceptional. It seemed to me that Kostova saved the best for last. Considering that this is her first novel, I would like to think that she still has a lot to offer.

I found the first third boring because of the basic premise: that Dracula and/or his cohorts, Vlad the Impaler to be specific are still alive. What triggers this is the book that is found in the bookshelves of a university professor who has a...more
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Gothic Literature: July BOTM: The Historian 12 33 Jul 05, 2014 10:59PM  
Around the World ...: Discussion for The Historian 17 97 Jun 01, 2014 08:52PM  
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Movie? 22 293 Mar 28, 2014 08:17PM  
Favorite aspect of the book. 10 94 Mar 28, 2014 08:07PM  
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Elizabeth Johnson Kostova is an American author. She is a graduate of Yale University and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won the Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress.

Her first novel, The Historian, was published in 2005, and it has become a best-seller.

More about Elizabeth Kostova...
The Swan Thieves L'historienne et Drakula, Tome 2 L'historienne et Drakula, Tome 1 HISTORIAN / A NOVEL Frankenstein

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