I’m very seldom disappointed by books, probably because I’ll pretty much read anything, and generally it’s a rule of mine to approach books without any expectation. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova had me gripped, until page 500-and-something, when I realised that the characters just kept doing the same things, and the scenes they witness in one country, are repeated in another on their search for Dracula and one of his victims.
The concept of the book is great: Academics seem to be targeted or “chosen” when they receive a mysterious, dragon-centred book. Thus the protagonist’s father tells the tale to his daughter of how he received such a book, and coincidentally how he met her mother. When his lecturer, Bartholomew Rossi goes missing, after revealing that he too, owns one of the mysterious books, Paul begins a desperate search for his mentor, encountering supernatural beings along the way.
The story is bity- told through the narrator, then through a series of letters and documents written by a range of characters. No doubt Kostova thoroughly researched all the historical facts and events that imbue this book, however, it just goes on too long, and lacks the haunting thrill of Bram Stoker’s original.
I will say that Kostova’s writing itself is great, and she gives a very established sense of place throughout the various countries that the characters travel too. However, this book is a commitment, and if you’re a Dracula fan, I would say rather give it a miss.
I paired this book with the delicious Dimersdal shiraz, which contains deep blackcurrant and chocolate flavours, with notes of pepper, pomegranate, cigar box, cloves and spice.