“For a Dracula-themed novel, it's hardly "gripping" nor "breathtaking". Nothing that happens in it thrilled nor surprised me. Granted it is intelligently written, but it's also verbose, long-winded and reads like a doctoral dissertation on the 15th century.
I have a BIG problem with the suspense factor in this novel (it's a vampire novel, naturally I expected it to be suspenseful). There are moments in the book when the suspense finally heightens and right when you turn the page in extreme anticipation, Kostova diverts to giving another one of her annoying travelogues and historical musings. And she does this every so often. For instance, -- [spoiler alert!] -- there's this part when one of the characters realizes that the man watching him from several yards away is in fact the vampire who's been stalking them. Kostova interrupts this and decides to talk about some freakin old photographs from the umpteenth century. That, to me, is stultifying! If this is Kostova's way of creating suspense, she's very much mistaken. It became so frustrating to me that halfway through the novel I was already rooting for Dracula to appear and suck the life out of the main characters (but was even more frustrated when, after Dracula finally appeared, I realized that he wasn't even THAT terrifying).
I give Kostova credit for her thorough research and intricate writing but I have to say that THE HISTORIAN is overhyped, painfully long and excrutiatingly boring.