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  • Writer's pictureBailey Smith

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

★★★☆☆ 3/5

To say that I didn't enjoy this book would be untrue; I did. It has a remarkable way of immersing you in its lush, academia-filled world. The prose is beautiful, and there were several instances when I found myself highlighting and saving quotes and sections. Overall, it was a good moody read for the beginning of October, allowing me to feel the leaves changing while still being in Southern California.

However, the atmospheric descriptions and overall autumn "vibes" couldn't entirely redeem this book from the issues I found with it. To start, the layers the narration delved into were, at times, overwhelming. I mean, frame stories upon frame stories with letters and notations. While I grasp the purpose of simulating varied academic sources, it could've only been successful if each narrator had a distinct voice. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, as there was no real distinction between the voice of the young 16-year-old and her father as a graduate student years prior or any other character thereafter.

Another issue was that my interest waned after about 400 pages, when this book should have ended. Instead, I found myself slogging through to the end and then being disappointed that the final reveal of this great evil, which was supposed to make all the anticipation worth it, was no more frightening than your average academic advisor. Oh, and then the book kept going... Would I recommend this book? Maybe? If you know what to expect going into it, this could be a fantastic atmospheric novel to pick up and set down for autumn. However, if you're seeking an engaging, "can't-put-it-down" book, this is not it.


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