I have never read Dracula or any Ann Rice novels, much to my daughter’s great dismay. Whatever knowledge I have of Dracula’s story probably comes from some Saturday afternoon “Monster Movie Matinee” television version that I watched as a child. Vampire lore has just never really appealed to me. But something about the blurb on the back cover of The Historian (by Elizabeth Kostova) intrigued me, even though the story revolves around the search for Dracula. Maybe it was the mention of the fifteenth-century, a fascinating period in European history. Maybe it was the words “dusty libraries” and “capitals of Eastern Europe” that appealed to my love of books and travel. Whatever it was, I am very glad I picked up Kostova’s book!
Kostova writes with an evocative voice, describing people and places with a surety that leads the reader to believe she is relating actual experiences from her own past. The story intertwines three different searches for Dracula and missing friends and/or family members spanning sixty years. Each search is dependent upon the knowledge acquired from the previous search and at times it does become confusing deciphering which search one is reading about and in which time period. As search builds upon search, ultimately the reader discovers that Dracula is not the only quest, but also Kostova’s mother, whom she had thought was long dead and whom is now feared to be among Dracula’s undead.
The pace of The Historian seemed slow to begin with, but by the last third of the book I only wanted to keep reading until I discovered the ending. I found the writing wonderfully detailed and rich, the historical settings compelling, and the Middle Ages history fascinating, even if it did pertain to Dracula! As a first novel, Elizabeth Kostova has set the bar high and I eagerly anticipate reading her next book.