Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Historian

So, I finished Ms. Kostova's novel. This is a difficult work to evaluate, at least in part because I wanted to like it more than I actually did. As I said in the earlier post, the author was clearly trying to create a literary novel that focused on vampires, specifically the Dracula legend. Did it work? I would say yes and no.

I found the history of the legend fascinating, and she had some really good suspenseful moments scattered throughout. I have to admit though, as a horror/suspense writer myself, there were times when the way she purposely slowed the book down just when it was getting intense was like nails on a chalkboard for me.

Thus, while I understand what she was trying to accomplish - after all, the grandaddy itself is a literary-type novel, if a little melodramatic - I think she erred a little on the side of the literary, especially in the first half of the book. There were just too many pages spent discussing such things as the smells of the food in each little town to which the narrator traveled or the exact textures of the weather at each particular location. Of course it is important to create a good atmosphere and setting for the story, but Ms. Kostova spent too much time developing settings that were ultimately irrelevant to the action of the book. This is what prevents the book from being the masterpiece its press kit claims that it is.

Overall, I would rate this book as a must-read, but only for horror or vampire buffs. The book is too weighed-down with excess prose to capture someone just looking for a fun read. But if you are interested in some very serious vampire lore and don't mind a little bit of wading, this book might be right for you, even if you're not a fanatic. It does have some alarming parts; I was just hoping for a little bit more.


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