The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Review by Saundra Kane

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In Print
Does Dracula still exist? After all these centuries could he be found and destroyed?

The story of this quest begins with the daughter and evolves into the story of her father and mother. All are academics with an interest in medieval history and especially in Vlad the Impaler. Paul, the father, is very curious when he finds an old book left on his desk when he is a graduate student. The pages of this book are blank except for the image of a dragon in the center pages. He feels haunted by the book and takes it to his advisor Professor Rossi who tells Paul that he had an identical experience when he was a young man and never found out where his copy of the book came from. It led him on a search to find out more about the old book and its origin. He explains to Paul that the dragon is the symbol for Dracula, who was based upon the real life man Vlad the Impaler.

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On Audio
One night later, Rossi is kidnapped. Paul witnesses a dark shadowy presence descend on Rossi's building the night of the kidnapping, but the authorities find no credence in Paul's account. He sets out on his own hunt, pairing up with Helen, a woman doing a similar research with an interesting connection to Professor Rossi. Paul and Helen begin their search for the Professor and for more information on the mysterious dragon book and Vlad the Impaler. Their journey takes them through the countries of Eastern Europe during the time of communist rule. The description of the cities is so rich and intriguing that it will leave you wanting to visit these places.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Historian. I had heard complaints from other readers about its length, but I found the details intoxicating. The backdrop of the universities and libraries gives a new light to those settings. One man in my reading group made the comment in jest: "Whoever knew that going to a library could be so dangerous?" This book is horror in the same sense that Dracula is. The evocative atmosphere and the books ability to appeal to the reader's own imagination keeps the tension high.

I would recommend this book to anyone willing to commit to a long intriguing tale of the search for ultimate evil as embodied in Dracula. Do they find him and destroy him? This book will leave you with questions about whether evil can ever be destroyed.

Saundra Kane is a lifelong reader and booklover. She currently runs two online communities for fiction readers: Bestsellers & Literature and Mystery Discussion Forum.