Monday, October 17, 2016

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova

In recent news, I attended my first writer's conference! My friend Robin and I attended the Women Writers of Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti this past Saturday, and we came away feeling invigorated. If any fellow writers have been toying with the idea of going to a conference, grab a friend and check one out - you never know who you might meet while you're there!

Since I started the month with Unnatural Creatures and because it's October, I'm going to continue with the somewhat spooky theme. I decided I didn't have the time nor the energy to decorate my house for Halloween this year, so I have to celebrate somehow.

This week's (well, last week's belated) feature is The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova's absolutely amazing debut novel from 2009. I've read it three times so far, and I'm starting to feel the itch to read it again. At 676 pages, it's definitely meaty enough for the reader to get something different out of it with every reread.

My first time through, I could barely put the book down to sleep and do actual adult things like go to classes or cook dinner. The story follows a father-daughter duo as they go on the hunt for Vlad the Impaler, who inexplicably is still around (in a sense) to cause trouble. I say this in a light-hearted tone, since this is a blog post and all, but the book itself is downright chilling. I was captivated by Kostova's writing; at times, the plot is unfolding as a story within a story within a story, and yet the reader never gets lost in the timeline. As a writer myself, I am in awe of the skill she wielded in order to pull that off.

The second time through, the whole story started to really sink in for me. I savored it a bit more, since I knew the overall arc but was still pleasantly surprised by some of the twists hadn't remembered. The third time around, the characters felt like old friends welcoming me back into one of my favorite fantasy lands.

Kostova herself has an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won one of the prestigious Hopwood Awards for The Historian, which at the time was her novel-in-progress. When I was an undergraduate, I applied to the Hopwood Awards and the U of M MFA program, both to no avail - in my head, Kostova has become a symbol for the writer I want to be but am not yet. Even writing this blog post about The Historian gives me the itch to work on my own novel, which I started with a similar historical fantasy perspective in mind.

On a different note, I've noticed that my readership numbers are slowly climbing the past few posts (yay!). To any newcomers who'd like to follow my unpredictable schedule, please sign up for the email list to be notified whenever a new review is posted! Also, if you know anyone who'd appreciate the blog, please share. :) There will be another post later this week, barring any disasters with my project for work, and it too will follow the Halloween theme.

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