The Reading Nook: The Historian

The Historian by Anna Kostova is a tricky review to write. Not because there is anything wrong with the book. It is a fantastic book. I love it. I highly recommend it. You should read it this weekend.

Here’s my problem. A significant part of what I liked about this book was the process of gradual realization as to what the book is really about. If I tell you “The Historian is a book about xxxxx” I could ruin your chance to experience this gradual realization. I will do my best to keep any and all spoilers out of my thoughts.

The book tells the story of a young woman who delves into her father’s past as an historian. When her father was a college student studying history, he found himself researching a somewhat unusual topic: Vlad the Impaler. His research picked up where his faculty mentor’s research left off, and his daughter’s research picks up where he left off.

For a history fan like myself, this book sucked me right in. The process of historical research and study was fascinating to me. Before you draw any wrong conclusions, the book doesn’t take place completely in a library. There are disappearances, deaths and… well, if you know anything about Vlad the Impaler, you will know that there are also the “undead.” Well. Maybe there are the undead.

But again, don’t get the wrong impression. This isn’t a horror story. There isn’t anything gruesome or gory or scary.

This book is so unlike anything I’ve read before I’m having a difficult time even explaining it. I suppose one could call it a literary quest to discover the historical origins of the actual, historical person”Dracula.”

Vlad the Impaler was an actual person, born in the middle part of the 15th century. He is also know as Vlad Ţepeș. The Dracula part comes from his father, who was known as Vlad II Dracul – of the Order of the Dragon. Dracula means roughly “son of the dragon,” which people have interpreted as a relationship to dark powers. Actually, it was simply in reference to an order of which his father was a member. Vlad’s goal in life was actually to protect Europe from the Ottoman empire – essentially, defending Christians from Muslim invaders. He wasn’t very nice in his methodology, and earned himself a violent and gory reputation. You can read all about him on Wikipedia, so I won’t give you the details here.

So where does the undead part come in? Well, it all depends on who you believe. And for that, you’ll have to read the book.

This one gets two thumbs up from me for being intelligent, addictive and original.


What are you reading this weekend?



2 thoughts on “The Reading Nook: The Historian

  1. I added it to my “to-read” shelf. 🙂 I’ve been reading “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell and have enjoyed it so far…looking forward to the movie! I’m interested to hear what you thought of the Ann Voskamp book. I started to read it but had a hard time with her writing style…

    • I’ll definitely look into Cloud Atlas. I love adding books to my to-read pile!

      Regarding Ann Voskamp – I’m still struggling with what I read in her book. I haven’t really been able to put together coherent thoughts on it. Will definitely post when I figure out what I want to say!

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