The Historian

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova I received an ARC of this book that came with a little wrapper and a vellum letter, folded and sealed with a wax-seal sticker inside of the book. The letter was one of the letters written by the main character's father to her mother. The presentation is what primarily interested me in this book (I still have the ARC with the letter, and never bothered to buy another edition). The narrative itself is compelling, even if it does drag a bit in the section on the cyrillic alphabet. It feels more like Kostova wanted to include some really awesome research she had done for a Doctoral thesis, but couldn't figure out how to work it into the main narrative well enough, so just stuck it in instead. This seems to be a fairly common complaint. That said, the depth of research is one of the novel's strengths. I was intrigued by the historical figure of Vlad the impaler, and this is one thing that kept me reading. I was also entranced by the descriptions of Budapest. I generally enjoy nested narratives, and this was no exception. Due to the way they were presented in the text, I never got confused as to which storyline I was in. The mix of letters and central narrative aided in overall cohesion, where Stoker's Dracula seemed almost too choppy (I realize that this may be one of its points, but there are limits, and Stoker comes close to them). The romance between Paul and Helen is believable, but the romance between their daughter and a fairly random Oxford boy feels thrown in. That the mystery is started by and centers on, to a degree, an unassuming book was aslo a draw for me. In general, this is a wonderful book and one that I will treasure, safe in the knowledge that I read it and enjoyed it before the current vampire craze. I'm old school, you see?