Elizabeth Kostova – The Historian

In 1972, a 16-year-old American living in Amsterdam finds a mysterious book in her diplomat father’s library. The book is ancient, blank except for a sinister woodcut of a dragon and the word “Drakulya,” but it’s the letters tucked inside, dated 1930 and addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” that really pique her curiosity. Her widowed father, Paul, reluctantly provides pieces of a chilling story; it seems this ominous little book has a way of forcing itself on its owners, with terrifying results.

Paul’s former adviser at Oxford, Professor Rossi, became obsessed with researching Dracula and was convinced that he remained alive. When Rossi disappeared, Paul continued his quest with the help of another scholar, Helen, who had her own reasons for seeking the truth. As Paul relates these stories to his daughter, she secretly begins her own research.

Kostova builds suspense by revealing the threads of her story as the narrator discovers them: what she’s told, what she reads in old letters and, of course, what she discovers directly when the legendary threat of Dracula looms. Along with all the fascinating historical information, there’s also a mounting casualty count, and the big showdown amps up the drama by pulling at the heartstrings at the same time it revels in the gruesome. (via Amazon.com)


A slow start, but if you allow yourself to get through the first few chapters, you’ll want to know what happened next and why. And the farther along you get, the more interesting it becomes, so just keep reading. It’s incredibly rich in historical details, not only about vampires and Vlad the Impaler, but the history of Eastern Europe, all without being dry.

It switches between the view of the daughter (whose first name we never learn) and letters from her father (written on his voyage, 20 years earlier), which are leading her through the journey to find Dracula. There is also true suspense: not only do the characters face the threat of death by vampires, but also political threats-bouncing from country to country in the Eastern Bloc during the height of the communist threat and dodging politicians unwilling to share country secrets. Filled with fascinating supporting characters, this book is very multifaceted.

Despite it’s nearly 1000 pages, the ending comes up abruptly. While surprising, you feel satisfied. Definitely worth the effort.