January 26, 2015
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The narrator is still under the care of her father when she discovers a mysterious book in his library. Drawn to it, she asks him about it and starts to learn of a terrible history. One that is dangerous as well as intriguing and one that her father is anxious to be away from. As a college student, he had come across the book in his stack at the library and upon researching it was thrust into a world where Vlad Tepes still existed and didn't want him delving into his secrets (or so it appeared). Those researching had found their own books and met with mysterious fates and after the disappearance of a professor at his college, he makes the acquaintance of the man's daughter and they embark on a mission to find him. But it won't be an easy one, as Vlad Tepes has a confusing history and there are plenty of people who don't want to see him succeed.
I can't say I really connected to any of the characters. The narrator, despite being present a good portion of the time was not fleshed out and I didn't feel as if I knew what she wanted and what she was experiencing. She more just told her father's story and at least there was a little more character development there, and on the part of her mother, but it still wasn't encompassing. I found a lot of the side characters a lot more likable. I also thought her somewhat guardian Barley, was unneeded and a distraction. I thought he was there to provide a love interest, but it didn't seem like there was any follow through in that regard or deep meaning.
The plot itself could have been an interesting one If it didn't stretch on so long that is. I really did feel as if I was reading a history book, and I find the majority of those onerous at the best of times. It's just hard to care when I'd rather know what happened and how the common people felt about something rather than being given endless dates, war strategies and the opinions and recollections of a few. I also thought the ending was quite anticlimactic and it seemed rushed when the rest of the novel went at a drag. Better pacing would have greatly improved this novel and helped make it more appealing. As it stands, it was a book I had to read in many sittings simply because I couldn't get absorbed into it. And considering it is a hefty book, that makes for a lot of sittings.
Not for me. Maybe if you like dates, names, and other trappings of a history textbook you'll enjoy this piece of fiction. But for me, unless I'm reading non-fiction, a fiction book should be more approachable.