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.

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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.

We would write, we would think of them. Life being long, we would see one another again. — 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.

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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.
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.

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