The Historian

This thrilling literary adventure (642 pages) was published in June of 2005 by Little, Brown and Company. The book takes you to Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary & more. Melissa read The Historian and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

amazon
buy
bookshop.org
buy

Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

rule

The Historian

Elizabeth Kostova

‘Vampire librarian.’ If those two words have sold you on this book, feel free to stop reading this and get your hands on a copy of the book immediately.

If you want more, try this: It’s a spine-tingling page-turner and a celebration of the unbreakable bonds we form with people in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

Or this: Most of the action takes place in historical libraries, dusty archives, and mountaintop monasteries — or around tables loaded with endless cups of tea, pastries, and Balkan food.

The story begins in 1970s Amsterdam: Late one night, while exploring her father’s library, a teenage girl finds a collection of old letters and a mysterious book that’s blank except for an illustration of a fearsome dragon. She reads the letters and is suddenly more frightened than she’s ever been. When her father disappears, she sets out on a quest to find him and to resolve the secrets of the letters. That decision puts her on a collision course with Vlad Țepeș, the 15th-century prince of Wallachia, a.k.a., Vlad the Impaler.

As the unnamed heroine searches for her father, he’s on his own mysterious mission and has teamed up with a motley, but endearing, crew of helpers. Our intrepid heroes are professors armed with good intentions, intelligence, and translation skills, rather than weapons. They traipse across Europe, from the Netherlands to Croatia, England, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Istanbul to investigate secrets among secrets among secrets.

Equal parts Gothic thriller, detective story, travelogue, and historical fiction, this epic effortlessly keeps track of a large cast of unforgettable (and fanged) characters as they fight for light in the face of an unspeakable evil.

It was strange, I reflected, as we went out into the golden evening of the Byzantine streets, that even in the weirdest circumstances, the most troubling episodes of one’s life, the greatest divides from home and familiarity, there were these moments of undeniable joy. — Elizabeth Kostova

*This is one of Melissa’s all-time favorite books and is one of the novels that inspired the creation of Strong Sense of Place.

keep reading

We've selected our favorite literary vampires according to a very sharply honed list of criteria. They're all remarkable versions of this ancient creature, and they populate stories worthy of their dangerous charms.
For readers, the book-lined shelves of libraries and archives are a dreamy backdrop for stories that resonate. These novels and nonfiction titles explore the drama, adventure, and history of our favorite bookish places.
This weekend, we recommend a getaway to Bulgaria... where you'll visit the capital city, explore mystical hilltop monasteries, get caught up in the secret histories of two world wars, and fall in love.
We might sometimes get a bit belligerent and argue that 'the book is always better.' But if we're totally honest, we enjoy a bad adaptation as much as a good one. The coulda/shoulda/woulda talk is so much fun.
This might very well be the ideal book to read in the fall. It's made for shorter days, eerie twilights, crunchy leaves, and a nip in the air — a thrilling tour of Eastern Europe, libraries, history, and legend.
All aboard for a fascinating virtual journey on train tracks. In this episode, we explore train history and proclaim trains the best mode of transportation, then we share books we love that put us right on the rails.
We invited you to ask us anything, and you came through. In this special episode of our podcast, we answer your questions, including the inside story on sentimental books, the expat experience, and our cat Smudge.
An engaging story that's well-told is one of life's great pleasures. And a story that meanders with good intentions into backstories and side stories and related stories? Well, that's the very best kind of word sorcery.

sharing is caring!

Wanna help us spread the word? If you like this page, please share with your friends.

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.

This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.
follow us

Content on this site is © 2022 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.