The Historian

  • by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Narrated by Joanne Whalley, Martin Jarvis, Dennis Boutsikaris
  • 11 hrs and 28 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor", and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of: a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known, and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself, to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed, and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answers to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler's dark reign, and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.


What the Critics Say

2005 Audie Award Nominee, Multi-Voiced Performance
"The Historian is artfully constructed and atmospheric." (Washington Post Book World)
"A bloodthirsty delight....Both literary and scary, this one is guaranteed to keep one reading into the wee hours." (Booklist)
"Exotic locales, tantalizing history, a family legacy, and a love of the bloodthirsty: it's hard to imagine that readers won't be bitten, too." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

One of my top 3

This is one of my top three books for the last 5 years. I read it about a year ago and was entranced by it so when I saw it as an audio, I had to listen to it as well. The audio production is excellent, maybe the best I have come across so far.
It is really hard to explain to someone who has not read it. The Historian is is not a horror story but it is about vampires. It is set across Europe with wonderful characters and descriptions. The story subtly builds up tension as it replays the lives of father and daughter who are fascinated to the extent of becoming addicted to the mysteries surrounding Vlad the Impaler, a middle European tyrant who fought invaders five centuries ago and managed to dispose of a fair proportion of his own people along the way. As they chase the trail he left in manuscripts and maps in cities across Europe and they delve deeper, strange things start to happen and suspense rises in this beautifully written and well read audio book
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- Peter

Jeeze, please show me, don't tell me.

Being enamored of novels with historical underpinnings, I decided to ignore some of the rather negative reviews and take a chance on this. And the historical elements in the story really are great.

But, to begin with, I do have a really bad problem with novels that depend heavily on epistolary segments that sound exactly like a normal 1st person narrative. People don't write letters that read like prose narrative. I understand the homage paid to Stoker in the author's choice of this form, but it only works if the letters SOUND like letters and the diaries SOUND like diary entries.

The next thing I found very irritating was that the conflicts in the plot depend so heavily on the ploy of a lack of information caused by a person who keeps finding it 'just too difficult/painful/tragic/horrific to relay.

I also had a very hard time with the main young female character's voice in the narrative. She sounded consistently far older than her years. I don't mean the female narrator's voice - that was fine. I mean the written voice of the character. In her portions of the story, she seems mentally about the same age as her father.

Finally, I got very frustrated when the writer kept insisting things were 'horrific', 'terrifying', and 'unfathomable' when they're actually not. Please don't tell me it's horrible. Show me that it's horrible - and make sure it actually IS.

I have to concur with some of the other reviews: I really didn't enjoy the production. One good reader would have been far more effective. It's not that any one of them were particularly bad narrators. They were all fine.

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- Madeleine

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-09-2006
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK