Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Historian - A RIPVIII Review

The Historian is a trip down the rabbit hole of Dracula lore.  Told in epistolary format, it is a story within a story within a story to find the tomb of Dracula to determine whether or not he is still alive. Sound confusing? It is.  At the end of the book I wasn't sure who's perspective we were reading from or who was writing the letters telling the story.  It is also very, very long, weighing in at over 700 pages.  It's well written, but often dry and there were portions of the book where I had to completely skip a 200 page primary document (that was made up!).  I read this book as part of a readalong hosted by the Estella Society for RIPVIII.  I will have the second round of discussion questions posted on October 14th, but I wanted to jot down my thoughts on the book before then.  You can read my answers to the first set of discussion questions here.

I really appreciate the depth of information that Kostova embedded in this novel.  I don't know anything about the Ottoman or Byzantine empires, so the knowledge included in the story line flowed well even if I didn't always know what they were talking about.  Being unaware of the specifics of the history also prevented any inaccuracies from marring the story for me.  I really enjoyed the main characters Paul and Helena and their developing relationship. However, the side characters fell short.  They were introduced into the story line too conveniently, and without any speculation as to why they were willing to help or believe the main characters in their quest.  They were lovely as individuals, and I especially enjoyed the hospitality of Turgut and his wife - but aligning their immediate kindness with the political turmoil in the middle east and eastern European countries at the time did not match up, making the novel fall short.

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