“I don’t know why, but I really like books that are told through letters and journal entries, and The Historian seems to be a good example of this style. I say “seems to be” because I listened to it on cd rather than reading it, so I am not sure how it looks on paper. At any rate, I still enjoyed the book and am very pleased to note that it was helpful that the audio version was read by more than one person since the book has several different characters telling the story.
In its most basic sense, The Historian is a retelling of the Dracula myth. The feel of the novel is very reminiscent of (and pays homage to by specifically referencing) Bram Stoker’s classic. This is not one of the newer romanticized pictures of vampires. It presents vampires as the cunning, cold-blooded killers that have been hunted throughout history. It is unique in that its “vampire hunters” are scholars that use historical records to track down Dracula.
The book has a few exciting scenes where people are attacked by Dracula, but most of this action is more suggestive than anything else. As I stated earlier, most of the novel is told by letters and journal entries that the characters wrote as they traipsed across Europe interviewing witnesses and discovering cryptic historical accounts and maps. I think that is where the tension that keeps the plot moving forward comes from – you are anxious to figure out how the latest piece of the puzzle fits into the bigger picture, and there is also the tension of trying to find the missing scholars who have disappeared during their quests for information. One of the more interesting points of the novel is that Dracula is himself a historian, and in that sense is very similar and sympathetic to the other characters.
The ending of the novel is a little anti-climactic. All the questions are answered, and all of the missing characters (including Dracula himself) are neatly accounted for. While the audio book was well done, I do wish that I had read the book rather than listening to it – it is easier to get distracted when you are listening to a book and I think that I would have enjoyed this one much more if I had actually sat down and read it. Especially if I had read it on the proverbial "dark and stormy night.”