Book Review - The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
My book club chose this book to read for Halloween - we had intended on reading half the book before our September meeting and then finish it for our October meeting. But there was some miscommunication and one of the members read the whole book prior to our September meeting so I scrambled to finish it in time (all 676 pages of it…) It was long….and dense…and definitely not a book I would have normally picked up. This is my third meeting since being invited to join and I felt like since I hadn’t read/finished the previous two books, I felt obligated to read this one. PLUS I was intrigued by the idea of our book club meeting at Lemp Mansion (which is supposedly haunted) in St. Louis to discuss this book. So all of these things contributed to my reading this book.
So why isn’t it one I would normally pick up?
These days I read new releases almost exclusively - that is the joy of being a book blogger. I get access to brand new releases, often before they are even on sale to the public. So almost all of the books I read these days are hot off the press. This book was published back in 2005.
It is about vampires. I have never been into reading about vampires, even during the Twilight craze…although to compare The Historian to Twilight is a crime.
It is really effing long. I have serious commitment issues when it comes to books. I don’t like to start series’ of books and I don’t like to read long books. If it is over 400 pages I definitely hesitate to pick it up. So at 676 pages (have I mentioned that already) I was digging in my heels. The only thing that got me to commit is that we were going to split it up over two months - bait and switch.
If I haven’t lost you already with the mention of vampires (and I would have totally shut down at this point because, like I mentioned, I’m not into vampires) it is important to note that this book is more about Vlad the Impaler, a real-life person who ruled Wallachia a region of Romania in the 1400s. Vlad the Impaler is also known by other names including Vlad Tepes and Vlad Dracula. It was Bram Stoker’s book, Dracula, that first made the connection between Vlad the Impaler and vampires. The book is written as an historical account and you can almost forget it is about vampires, despite the occasional references to vampire lore such as biting on the neck and the use of garlic and crucifix to keep the vampires away.
So did I like it? Yeah, kinda. The style of writing almost reminded me of The Da Vinci Code, which I LOVED. This one was a bit more dense, a little harder to get into…but the story was compelling. I was interested in what happened in the end, even if that meant skimming parts that had to do with Dracula attacking people. Surprisingly, I find myself talking about this book more than others I’ve read…perhaps because it is such a departure from what I normally read. I’m glad I was encouraged to read outside my comfort zone but I’m ready for a more light-hearted read, for sure!