Elizabeth Kostova is obviously a fan of both European history, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and both of these interests are thoroughly intertwined in her first novel The Historian.
Written from the point of view of the unnamed female narrator, who is sixteen during the bulk of the events in the novel, it is a tale of three parallel chases, one in 1972, in which she is involved, one just before her birth, and one before her father was even in school himself, and led by the man who would eventually become his mentor. Along the way, paths cross and deviate, love affairs end mostly tragically, and the reader is guided on an historical tour of Eastern Europe, that leaves one craving goulash and wishing for a pocket full of garlic.
The object of the chase, is, of course, Dracula, who is depicted as a blend of Stoker’s undead Count, and the real Vlad Tepes.
The author, like Stoker (though I suspect in his case it was unintentional) even leaves the way open for a sequel.
If you liked the original Victorian novel, this book will appeal. I warn, however, that while the story is compelling, the language is a bit stilted – it reads very much as if the author was a contemporary of Stoker’s, and not a 21st century Yale graduate, though, the somewhat stylized language does fit the tale rather well.
Consider The Historian a must-read for any real vampire fan.