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Rec: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Angel’s adjectives: intriguing and intellectual

As far as vampire books go, this one ranks among the best I’ve ever read. It takes a historic/literary approach, giving a detailed look into the world of Vlad the Impaler and the peoples of his time through the eyes of a historian researching the historic character and visiting many of the places he visited. It follows a family marked by the vampire who unwittingly become hunted through an academic search for the final resting place of Dracula. It takes you across Eastern Europe of the 20th century.

It can be slow in the beginning, but as the story unfolds, the characters draw you in and I came to care for them deeply. I cried several times during the reading of this book. The author uses gorgeous, rich language to describe the exotic locations in the book, as well as the thoughts of the characters regarding their circumstances.

This is not a book about Dracula’s sexual conquests, vampire politics, or vampires in love. Rather, it’s an intellectual study of the myth from the point of view of innocent human historians drawn into the path of Dracula’s ancestors by their research into his past. The information surrounding Dracula’s life, Bram Stoker’s contribution to the mythology, and the world of Dracula’s living time is fascinating. I hope it’s well-researched and true, though I acknowledge that it straddles the line between history and mythology.

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