Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Historian

I've been meaning to do this post for ages! Many of my regular readers have already heard me go on in person about this book, but it really is so good that it deserves a special web mention. First of all, don't be confused into thinking that this is great literature. It doesn't quite rise to that mark. Nevertheless, it is one of the most compelling and entertaining books I've had the pleasure of reading in quite a while.

Told from several different viewpoints using mostly letters and recollections, it tells the story of a family searching for answers to its past. Many lines of connection are spun between disparate people with a single common factor, an interest in the historical figure Vlad Tsepesh, also known as Dracula. I do not want to give away any of the delicious details of the story, but I can say that it does an amazing job of evoking the places and times in which the various chapters unfold. I'm left very much wanting to visit all sorts of unusual locations across Europe just because they seem so real from the telling in the book.

Of course there are always naysayers for any novel. Some complain that the characters are thin, others that there are too many "coincidences" for believability, but I really do think these people are picking. There are some areas that could use fleshing out, it's true, but given the heft of this book as it is, I can see why the author (or perhaps the editor) chose to leave some things unexplained. On the whole, this is a very well-written story with all sorts of interesting angles to consider. Remember when you were a kid and you had a really good book that you just didn't want to put down? Your mom would have to call you three times to come to dinner, and you might even hide under the covers with a flashlight just so you could finish? This is one of those books for grown-ups.

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