Sabrina's Reviews > The Historian

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
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did not like it
Recommended 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 the characters, outline the plot.... all of this takes a lot of hard work, and sometimes hours of research. While the research is necessary (especially for a story involving an actual historical figure), it is NOT, I repeat: NOT, a requirement to include every scrap of research as part of the novel itself. Oh, how angry I got when the story finally started getting good, Ms. Kostova would interject a 20-30 page dissertation on the history of the church in the times of Vlad the Impaler! It did nothing to further the plot, and only served to make me feel like I was back in college studying for an exam. Where's the entertainment? Where are the sleepless nights I was promised? When do we get introduced to Dracula?????? Don't worry, he's somewhere in those 686 pages, but if you blink you might miss him!

The research goes so far as to include a number of "fake" source documents. Had these "documents" been merely mentioned and perhaps summarized, I would be all for it. Heck, I AM an archaeologist and historian, remember? But NOOOOO. The author had to create these "documents" and then insert each one WORD-FOR-WORD. One even takes an entire chapter. UGH.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about well-researched books. In fact, a well-researched and planned book only brings credibility to your story. However, The Historian proved to be nothing more than an over-zealous researcher's attempt to create a story from a subject that she is obviously passionate about. The voluminous research is a real turn-off. I don't want to read a vampire story and have to sit through a hundred "mountainous countryside" descriptions. There are mountians. The Carpathians. I get it. Get on with the story. Unfortunately, she never does.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 18, 2007 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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Martha Yes! Yes! Exactly! I've been going through the reviews of this book after writing mine, and it's boggled my mind how many people ranked this books as 4 and 5 stars. I thought maybe it's because I'm not a historian, so it's good to see you also giving it a single star. *And* you're an archaeologist? That's fantastic, I feel so better!


Jackie Same here. It has all the promise of a great novel. It didn't excite me, or thrill me or even hold my interest. It was an utter disappointment.
One of my biggest pet peeves is long winded commentary on something that has nothing to do with furthering the plot. And this book did that entirely too much for my liking.


message 3: by Scott (new)

Scott Warrender Ugh. I'm on page 241 and I DREAD opening this book to continue every night. Thanks for your review. I think I've decided to move on to the next book in my long list!


Amanda Thank you! You put it very well. I'm not even to page 100 and can't really get into it. So dry. Might have to let this one go.


Benita Yay! I am not alone. It usually takes a lot for me to put down a book, but after struggling to half-way through this one, I finally admitted defeat. Detail - if it adds value to the story line - is good. But this one has way to much and it does nothing for the story


Jessica Pataky It's called The Historian and your expectations were that it would be a toe curling thriller? As mine were that it would be a historical novel about a cruel and integral figure from European history. Odd how different our expectations were.....


Jessica Pataky It's called The Historian and your expectations were that it would be a toe curling thriller? As mine were that it would be a historical novel about a cruel and integral figure from European history. Odd how different our expectations were.....


Eran Katz Me too. Its well written, but doesn't take off. Too bad.


Wisteria It wasn't a "vampire" story like Anne Rice writes. It was about Eastern Europe, the historical aspect of Dracula, and the various countries involved. If you want a scary vampire book, this is not for you. It is about the history of the beginning of Dracula and takes you to many historic places in many countries. I loved the twist that it was NOT like a typical vampire story.


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