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ISBN 0316730319 / 9780316730310 / 0-316-73031-9
Publisher Little, Brown & Company
› Find signed collectible books: 'The Historian'
Some stories can be told again in endlessly different ways. Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian combines a search for the historical Dracula with a profound sense that Stoker got some things right--that the late Mediaeval tyrant kills among us yet, undead and dangerous. From Stoker, she also takes a sense that the supernatural seems more real when embedded in documentary evidence.
Three generations search for Dracula's resting place, and their stories are nested within each other, so that we know that at least two quests ended badly. Kostova rations her thrills very carefully so that we jump out of our chair at quite slight surprises, especially when we have come to expect buckets of blood and loud bangs. She also has a profound and well-communicated sense of place and period, so that the book is equally at home in 1930s Rumania, Cold War Budapest and 1970s Oxford. Kostova is particularly good on the sights and sounds of remote country places and the taste of real peasant food--this sensuous realism does not always go with her other skill, the creation of imagined documents and folksongs that feel as real and true as what might be actual.
This is a quietly good book rather than a spectacular debut, with some uncomfortable twists in its tail; her heroine-narrators are, and perhaps remain, in the most serious of jeopardies. ---Roz Kaveney [via]