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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: A Review

If you are looking for a book that combines history, mystery, and horror, you might want to check out The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. This novel is a thrilling and captivating journey into the past and the present, following the footsteps of Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign inspired the legend of Dracula. In this review, I will tell you what The Historian is about, who Elizabeth Kostova is, why you should read this book, and how you can download it in mobi format.

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What is The Historian about?

The Historian is a debut novel by American author Elizabeth Kostova, published in 2005. It is a complex and multi-layered story that spans several centuries and continents, blending the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș (also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula) and his fictional counterpart Count Dracula. The novel is told from the perspective of three narrators: a 16-year-old girl who discovers an ancient book and a cache of letters in her father's library; her father Paul, a professor who recounts his own quest for Dracula's tomb; and his mentor Rossi, who vanished after pursuing the same mystery. Along the way, they encounter danger, deception, and death as they try to unravel the secrets of Dracula's existence and power.

Who is Elizabeth Kostova?

Elizabeth Kostova was born in New London, Connecticut and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. She graduated from Yale University and received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. She was inspired to write The Historian by her father's stories about Dracula when she was a child, and by her travels in Eastern Europe as a student. She spent ten years researching and writing the novel, which became a best-seller and won several awards. She has also written two other novels: The Swan Thieves (2010) and The Shadow Land (2017).

Why should you read The Historian?

You should read The Historian if you enjoy novels that are:

  • Engaging: The novel is full of suspense, twists, and surprises that will keep you hooked until the end.

  • Educational: The novel is rich in historical details and references that will teach you a lot about Vlad Țepeș, Dracula, and the cultures and places he influenced.

  • Eerie: The novel creates a Gothic atmosphere that evokes fear, dread, and fascination with the supernatural.

Main Body

The Plot of The Historian

The plot of The Historian is complex and intricate, involving multiple timelines, locations, and characters. Here is a brief summary of the main stories:

The Story of Paul and his Daughter

The novel begins in 1972, when a 16-year-old girl (whose name is never revealed) finds an old book with a dragon emblem and a bundle of letters in her father's library. The letters are addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor" and they reveal a dark and dangerous secret. Her father, Paul, decides to tell her the truth about his past and his involvement in the search for Dracula. He takes her on a trip across Europe, retracing his steps and hoping to find his missing friend and colleague, Helen Rossi.

The Story of Rossi and Helen

The letters are written by Bartholomew Rossi, a professor of history who was Paul's mentor when he was a graduate student at Harvard. Rossi tells Paul how he became obsessed with Dracula after finding a mysterious book in Istanbul in 1930. He followed the clues to Romania, where he met Helen, a young woman who claimed to be the daughter of Vlad Țepeș. They fell in love and decided to work together to find Dracula's tomb. However, Rossi was attacked by an unknown assailant and disappeared, leaving behind only a bloodstained note. Helen later contacted Paul and asked him to help her find Rossi. They also fell in love and continued the quest, but they faced many dangers and obstacles along the way.

The Story of Vlad the Impaler and Dracula

The book with the dragon emblem is a chronicle of Vlad Țepeș, a 15th-century prince of Wallachia who ruled with an iron fist and earned the nickname of "the Impaler" for his cruel methods of torture and execution. He was also a member of the Order of the Dragon, a secret society that fought against the Ottoman Empire. He was betrayed by his brother Radu, who sided with the Turks, and by his wife Ilona, who committed suicide. He was captured and imprisoned by the Turks, but he escaped and reclaimed his throne. He died in battle in 1476, but his body was never found. According to legend, he became Dracula, an undead creature who feeds on human blood and can control animals, weather, and people. He has been hiding in different places throughout history, waiting for his true heir to awaken him.

The Style of The Historian

The style of The Historian is influenced by several genres and literary traditions, such as:

The Epistolary Format

The novel is written mostly in the form of letters, journals, documents, and transcripts that the characters exchange or discover. This format creates a sense of authenticity and intimacy, as well as suspense and mystery. It also allows the reader to experience different perspectives and voices. The novel follows the example of Bram Stoker's Dracula, which is also an epistolary novel.

The Historical Research

The novel is based on extensive historical research that Kostova conducted for ten years. She visited many of the places mentioned in the novel, such as Istanbul, Budapest, Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, Oxford, Paris, Venice, and more. She also consulted many sources about Vlad Țepeș, Dracula, Eastern Europe, Ottoman history, medieval history, folklore, art, architecture, religion, and more. She incorporates many factual details and references into the novel, making it realistic and informative.

The Gothic Atmosphere

The novel creates a Gothic atmosphere that evokes fear, dread, and fascination with the supernatural. The novel uses many elements of Gothic fiction , such as:

  • Ancient settings: The novel takes place mostly in old buildings or ruins that have a history of violence or mystery.

  • Remote locations: The novel explores exotic or isolated places that are unfamiliar or hostile to the characters.

  • Supernatural events: The novel involves vampires , ghosts , curses , visions , prophecies , and other paranormal phenomena.

  • Damsels in distress: The novel features female characters who are threatened or endangered by malevolent forces or villains.

  • Byronic heroes: The novel features male characters who are brooding , passionate , rebellious , or tormented by their past or their secrets.

The Themes of The Historian

The Themes of The Historian

The themes of The Historian are the main ideas or messages that the novel conveys. Some of the themes are:

The Quest for Knowledge and Truth

The novel portrays the quest for knowledge and truth as a noble but dangerous endeavor. The characters are driven by curiosity, passion, and duty to uncover the secrets of Dracula and his history. They use their skills and resources as historians, scholars, and researchers to find clues, evidence, and sources. However, they also face many challenges, risks, and sacrifices along the way. They encounter enemies, obstacles, and traps that try to stop them or mislead them. They also have to deal with ethical dilemmas, moral conflicts, and personal losses that test their faith and integrity. They learn that some truths are hard to accept or understand, and that some knowledge comes at a high price.

The Power of Evil and Darkness

The novel depicts the power of evil and darkness as a pervasive and persistent force that affects human history and society. Dracula is the embodiment of evil and darkness in the novel. He is a ruthless tyrant who committed atrocities and crimes against humanity. He is also a supernatural being who can manipulate nature and people to his will. He has survived for centuries by feeding on human blood and spreading his influence. He has followers, allies, and servants who help him or worship him. He also has enemies, rivals, and victims who oppose him or suffer from him. He represents the worst aspects of human nature, such as violence, greed, pride, and corruption.

The Clash of Cultures and Religions

The novel explores the clash of cultures and religions as a source of conflict and diversity in human history and society. The novel depicts the historical tensions between the Christian West and the Islamic East , especially during the Ottoman expansion and the Crusades . The novel also shows the cultural differences and similarities between various regions and countries in Eastern Europe , such as Romania , Bulgaria , Hungary , Turkey , Serbia , Greece , and more. The novel also examines the role of religion in shaping human beliefs and values , such as Christianity , Islam , Judaism , Paganism , and more. The novel acknowledges the positive and negative effects of cultural and religious interactions , such as exchange , cooperation , tolerance , misunderstanding , prejudice , persecution , and war.


Summary of the Main Points

In conclusion, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is a novel that combines history, mystery, and horror in a captivating way. It tells the story of three generations of historians who search for Dracula's tomb across time and space. It is written in an epistolary format that creates authenticity and suspense. It is based on extensive historical research that makes it realistic and informative. It creates a Gothic atmosphere that evokes fear and fascination. It conveys themes such as the quest for knowledge and truth, the power of evil and darkness, and the clash of cultures and religions.

Personal Opinion and Recommendation

I enjoyed reading The Historian because I found it engaging, educational, and eerie. I liked how the novel blended fact and fiction in a creative way. I learned a lot about Vlad Țepeș, Dracula, and Eastern Europe from this novel. I also liked how the novel created a sense of mystery and suspense that kept me interested until the end. I felt scared and thrilled by the novel's Gothic elements. I think The Historian is a well-written and well-researched novel that deserves praise and recognition.

I would recommend The Historian to anyone who likes novels that are historical, adventurous, or scary. I think this novel would appeal to fans of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, or Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. I think this novel would also appeal to anyone who is interested in Vlad Țepeș, Dracula, or Eastern Europe.


  • Q: How long is The Historian?

  • A: The Historian is about 700 pages long.

  • Q: Is The Historian a true story?

  • A: The Historian is a fictional story, but it is based on real historical facts and sources.

  • Q: Is The Historian a horror novel?

  • A: The Historian is not a horror novel, but it has some elements of horror, such as vampires, ghosts, and curses.

  • Q: Is The Historian a series?

  • A: The Historian is not a series, but it is a standalone novel.

  • Q: How can I download The Historian in mobi format?

  • A: You can download The Historian in mobi format from this link:



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