All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

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Happy reading!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova


Elizabeth Kostova sets the scene early in The Historian, with clues that lead to the resurrection of Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula. A letter addressed to "my dear unfortunate successor," a strange old book, blank except for one page with a wood block printed word "Drakulya," and several mysterious disappearances suggest to Kostova's characters that the Dracula of myth is still alive.

The book's protagonist is the daughter of a prominent diplomat and historian. As she begins to uncover his secret life, he reveals the subject of his research and the necessity and purpose of his travels, all of which relate to his involvement with Vlad and the disappearance of Helen, her mother. Through her father's narrative, letters addressed to "my unfortunate successor," and postcards and notes from Helen, the mystery unwinds leading to a tense but satisfying ending. Suffice it to say that The Historian requires the reader to set aside reality, to be willing to skip (or flee, which is more appropriate in this book) down the halls of fantasy, and be swept away by the story.

The Historian is light literature for mystery fans or those who enjoy a more adult Vampire pop culture book. It does become fairly deeply mired in the culture and history of central and eastern Europe, which would appeal to fiction readers who require their fantasy writing to be factually accurate on the periphery of the story. This rescues the book from being something purely supernatural and fantastic.

A page-turner, the hardback version is 632 pages long, but it is a quick read and would be a good choice for the beach or vacation. It was published in 2005 by Little, Brown, and Company. Kostova recently published her second novel, The Swan Thieves.

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