The Lost Lola's Reviews > The Historian

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
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Apr 04, 09

bookshelves: vampires
Recommended to The Lost Lola by: my sister
Recommended for: Dracula, Eternal Darkness ~Sanity's Requiem~
Read in April, 2009, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Summary:

The narrator of the story finds a strange book in her father's library, a book depicting a menacing dragon. Upon confronting her father, she learns that the legends of Dracula are true, and that Vlad Tepes is, in fact, still alive. She goes on a quest to uncover the truth of Dracula, and discovers that the past always comes back to haunt us.


Characters:

Bartholomew Rossi- One of Paul's mentors, he is also one of the recipients of the dragon book, and is kidnapped by Dracula to archive his impressive library.

Dracula- Well, he's the vampire, obviously. Vlad Tepes, evil incarnate. He is still very much alive, and seeks out "historians" to keep his legacy alive. He is obsessed with history, and keeps a large library filled with numerous texts.

Helen Rossi- Bartholomew's daughter, and Paul's lover. She feels nothing but hate for Rossi for abandoning her and her mother. She is also on a quest to find him, and along the way, she gets bitten and infected, and she finds out she is a decendant of Vlad Tepes.

Narrator- You never even find out her name! She discovers the book in her father's library, and after he disappears, she goes on a quest to find him. She is the daughter Paul and Helen (and thus, a also a decendant of Dracula)

Paul- Narrator's father, and Helen's lover. After also receiving a copy of the dragon book, he seeks the help of Professor Rossi, only to find his mentor missing. He goes on a search to find him with Helen.


Review:

Awesome book! The only downside is the length, which is sort of the reason I gave it 4/5 stars. There was A LOT of body to this book, and not all of it was entirely necessary, but it was readable nonetheless. I thought the pace was consistent, and it was interesting that the narrator (supposedly the main character), is rarely in the book. Most of the book is told from Paul's POV, either in the form of storytelling (in the beginning), to letters left to his daughter (middle to the end).

In the course of the book, you learn of Paul's quest to find Rossi, his falling in love with Helen, their journies to various locations and meeting others who have received the dragon book, and then ultimate disappointment when they finally find Dracula's tomb and it is empty, and they are forced to kill Rossi, who they have been trying to save this entire time. It's tragic when they have to temporarily give up their quest to find Dracula, and Helen becomes pregnant. She later turns depressed and suicidal when she believes she is a threat to her family, and leavs Paul and their daughter. When everyone is reunited in the climax of the novel, I felt a sense of relief, which, of course, was short lived when I realized that they didn't seem successful in killing Vlad, and his legacy has continued. The story seems to emphasize the idea of maintaining a legacy through story and documentation rather than eternal life (though Vlad is immortal). Thus, the title of the book is extremely important, since everyone in the novel was a Historian and obsessed with uncovering the past.

The story takes place in the entirety of Europe, and stretches many countries over. I think what would've made this book even better would be if there were a picture version of the book (much like the versions available for Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons). As someone who has never been out of my birth country, it would've been awesome to see pictures of Bulgaria and Hungary and France scattered throughout the book (though a burning image of Vlad himself has stayed in my mind for a long time). Also, don't read this book if you're hungry. They eat constantly, and the food sounds AMAZING... it will make you hungry!

I found the part of Rossi's journal he kept while a prisoner of Dracula was the most chilling part of the book. To hear his thoughts as he is forced to catalogue the vampires library, and to know of his own impending death and ultimately his eternal life as a vampire is disturbing. I think the most chilling part of this is the fact that I actually found myself sympathizing with Vlad, and actually finding him appealing. he was a horrible person, and did horrible things, but the way Kostova describes him is eerily sensual.

I thought the end of the book was satisfying, though I guess I could see how leaving it open for interpretation as far as whether or not Vlad is dead could be frustrating. I fell the book was written for an intelligent audience, and Kostova leaves a lot of this open to your own thoughts, which was a nice change of most books hand feeding you the story.

"History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so. Good is not prefectable, evil is." ~Vlad p. 586
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Reading Progress

02/27/2009 page 298
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