I loved The Historian when it came out in 2005. In addition to being a fascinating bibliomystery and contributing to vampire lore (these vamps have to bite their victims three times—three!—in order to spawn new vampires), it’s a love song to the disappearance of history as we know it. By the time of its publication, the 1930s and 1960s research worlds depicted in this book were already disappearing. Gone were the days when a distant monastic library had the world’s only extant copy of a particular 16th-century letter, map, or ledger. Far from a Van Helsing adventure story, this cat-and-mouse tale takes place primarily in the dustiest archives and most stately libraries of Europe. Kostova’s Dracula has a special fondness for biting librarians (and really, who wouldn’t?), and he spends his undead days (well, nights) tracking down rare incunabula , mostly about himself. Nowadays he would just Google himself and be done with it.
I do have one major complaint. The box boasts that the package contains an audio preview of The Swan Thieves, Kostova's new novel that's due out in January, but I couldn't find it on any of the ten discs. (Actually, the box says that it will contain “a audio preview”—another example of a copy editor falling asleep at the switch.) I also couldn't find the promised pdf of the cast of characters, which would have been very helpful in figuring out which actor played what part. Most of them seem to have played more than one role, and they did this so well that it was not immediately apparent just by listening to the audio. In all, though, this was great to listen to.