*** About the Book ***
In the 1930s Bartolomeo Rossi comes across an antique book, blank inside except for the image of a horrible dragon. This book leads him on a journey across Eastern Europe and Western Asia in search of the true history of Vlad Tepes, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula. Twenty years later Rossi’s graduate student, Paul, discovers another dragon book. When Rossi disappears shortly after this discovery, Paul sets out on his a journey to find his friend and mentor. Then in the 1970s Paul’s daughter ventures out on her own to find her father who left her alone under mysterious circumstances.
These three stories, along with the history of Vlad Tepes, combine in anything but chronological order to create a complicated and fascinating tale.
*** Why I Read It ***
I’ve owned this book for a long time. In fact, I think it was Bermudaonion who sent me her copy last year when I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to read it. It was just so huge that I kept putting off reading it, even though it was on my list for the TBR 2010 Challenge. Then I heard about the On the Ledge Readalong and decided that was the perfect excuse to dive into this book.
*** My Thoughts ***
When I started reading this book I was sucked in right away. The story moves slowly but each page brings a slight increase in the spookiness factor; there is definitely a gothic feel to this tale! It is very atmospheric throughout and I really loved that aspect of the book.
The middle section includes many, MANY detours in the plot and a whole ton of historical detail. This section was both fascinating and frustrating. I loved learning about the various cities and I thought the context of the “history lessons” made a lot of sense, but I also wanted to get on with the Dracula-centric portion of the plot.
The last several chapters moved at a much quicker pace and brought the various storylines together in a compelling conclusion.
Part of me is complaining because I didn't "believe" some parts of the story. Things seemed to just happen and people seemed to just appear, always at the perfect time; it was too coincidental for me. Yet at the same time those "coincidences" were a huge part of the story weren't necessarily meant to be coincidences at all. (Does that even make sense?!)
Here’s my dilemma:
Although I really enjoyed the book I thought it was rather slow. BUT that could very likely be because I split it up over so many weeks so I could keep pace with the readalong. There were times – even in the middle of the book – when I didn’t want to stop reading but I'd stop anyway just so I wouldn’t get ahead of the group. I think that, for me, stopping and starting really destroyed the momentum of the story and the mood of the book.
As I said in my review of Bleak House, if I’m reading a book for a readalong and I’m really into the story, I should just go ahead and read at my own pace – I think I’ll be happier in the end.
*** Thoughts on the Read-a-long ***
I don’t know if Coffee and a Book Chick and Tedious and Brief plan to host read-a-longs in the future but if so I highly recommend that you check them out over at On The Ledge Readalongs. They did a FANTASTIC job of providing pictures (!!!) and background to enhance each week’s reading. I don't ever take the time to look up things as I read so this was a real treat for me. I was amazed as some of the things they posted – it really made the experience of reading the book better.
*** Your Thoughts ***
What did you think of The Historian? Were you sucked into the story or did it drag for you? How does this book compare to Kostova’s newer novel, The Swan Thieves? (Honestly I have not a bit of interest in the subject of that one … am I doing it a disservice by passing on it?)