Jul 30, 12
Read in July, 2012 — I own a copy
This book is everything that Elisabeth Kostova's "The Historian" was supposed to be but wasn't.
Finally, someone has written a vampire novel that doesn't insult your intelligence. It's a real page-turner. The writing is tighter than that of 90% of today's best-selling fiction authors, and the author clearly knows his material well. The use of Balkan folklore reminded me of Tony Hillerman's use of Navajo, Zuni and Hopi Indian folklore to enrich his detective stories. I learned a great deal, not only about vampires in the Balkans, but also about the local culture in Serbia and Bosnia.
I loved the way it was set in the decaying post-communist world of Budapest and Serbia and Bosnia, as well as the elements of the wars of Yugoslavia's collapse that are constantly in the background. I also liked the way the book redefines vampires based on authentic Balkan folklore descriptions -- none of this Hollywood/Twiglight/True Blood Gothic Romance nonsense. Ain't nothing twinkling in this book.
The characters are all well-developed. The character of Slatina is amazing: imagine James Bond crossed with Gandalf/Dumbledore. Although I was somewhat disappointed with the character of Steven, who at times frustrated me with his seeming wimpiness. I wish the author had let him emote more. But that didn't detract from the book.
I found the use of historical flashbacks at the end of every chapter very intriguing and they helped to move the story forward in an unexpected fashion. Judging by the ending, the author clearly expects to write a sequel.
All in all, the book was a thrilling read and well worth the money.