"The story that follows is one I never intended to commit to paper. Recently, however, a shock of sorts has prompted me to look back over the most troubling episodes of my life and of the lives of the several people I loved best. This is the story of how as a girl of sixteen I went in search of my father and his past, and of how he went in search of his beloved mentor and his mentor's own history, and of how we all found ourselves on one of the darkest pathways into history. It is the story of who survived that search and who did not, and why. As a historian, I have learned that, in fact, not everyone who reaches back into history can survive it. And it is not only reaching back that endangers us; sometimes history itself reaches inexorably forward for us with its shadowy claw."
Thus Elizabeth Kostova begins her 676 page novel, which follows the young protagonist as she chases through Eastern Europe on the trail of one of history's cruelest figures, Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. It's a lyrical book, filled with letters and mysterious characters that weave in and out of the plot. Along the way, we're treated to a history lesson; we're whisked back in time to witness Vlad Drakulya, defender of Christendom and enemy of the Turks as he does battle with Sultan Mehmet II in the fifteenth century.
This is, in fact, a vampire novel, but it is much more than that. It is a richly woven together book, part travelogue (trains wind over narrow mountain passes in the Balkans), part history (much of the story revolves around the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453), and part vampire lore. It is a wonderful combination, and makes for a fascinating read.
As many readers know, today marks the release of the third film installment of the Twilight series, Eclipse. I finished reading this book last week, and I have a thing about wanting to pass the books I read along. As I was reading it, I kept thinking how much more I preferred this book to the Twilight series, as it is more complex, and yet still had that component which draws you in, namely, the vampire.
Up for grabs is a dog-eared paperback copy of the book, The Historian (this book is in used condition). If you want it, leave a comment on this entry of my blog. The contest ends at midnight EST on Monday July 5th.
Best of luck and happy reading!