Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday

TTT: Books for People Who Liked The Historian

TTT is hosted, as always, by The Broke and The Bookish. Today’s topic is: Top Ten Books for People Who Like X Book. I chose The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It’s doubtful you’ll see a review of this book on Isleofbooks. It’s been some years since I read it and as my current goal is to finish reading all the books I have and haven’t read, rereads are a long way off. That said, I really love this book.

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known – and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself – to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed – and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answer to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler’s dark reign – and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

Parsing obsure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions – and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vald’s ancient powers – one woman comes every closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.

Without further ado, here is my list!

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker.

-I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend this book. Not the first fiction book about vampires, but definitely the first to cement the Dracula legend.

2. The Passage 

-Another of my absolute favorites. This is a chunky book like The Historian, but it moves fast. Love the modern take on vampires.

3. The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

-Watch for a review of the entire series later this week! Somewhat like the passage, this series posits vampirism as a virus. Titles include The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal.

4. The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

-What good list of vampire books doesn’t include this series? Anne Rice was writing about vampires before Twilight made it cool.

5. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

-Speaking of Twilight, here’s another YA vampire series. I admit, other than the Twilight series, I haven’t read much at all of the market saturation of YA vampire novels. I happen to like these, but no idea how they stack up to the numerous others.

6. I am Legend by Richard Matheson

-This is a vampire book, but I tend to think it of it more as a zombie book. Anyways, it’s worth a read.

7. Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino

-Okay, technically I haven’t read this. But I watched the show! And the show was awesome! So since manga > its anime counterpart, these must be extra awesome. Makes sense, right?

8. Mina by Elaine Bergstrom

-Typically, I don’t like books the purport to be sequels of other books that weren’t written by the same person. But I did actually like this one.

9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

-I never resist a chance to promote this book. Not about vampires, but the writing has a similar tonal quality to The Historian.

10. Interred with their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

-I really love historical fiction thrillers. E.G. The Historian. E.G. Interred with their Bones. This one’s about Shakespeare.

And no, I don’t watch True Blood or read the Sookie Stackhouse books.

Fiction, Reviews, Uncategorized

Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker

A dreary castle, blood-thirsty vampires, open graves at midnight, and other gothic touches fill this chilling tale about a young Englishman’s confrontation with the evil Count Dracula. A horror romance as deathless as any vampire, the blood-curdling tale still continues to hold readers spellbound a century later.

Speaking of vampires, it’s about time I gave a nod to one of the most famous novels of the genre, the masterful work of Bram Stoker.

On a side note, there’s a Dracula ballet. It’s pretty damn awesome and has everything you could want in a ballet- dancing, music, skimpy outfits, death, and vampires. It was after seeing this performance somewhere circa 2007 that I finally took the book off my to-read shelf and dove in.

I really enjoy this book, but as a disclaimer, the people I’ve recommended this to have a hard time getting through it. What that says, I don’t know.

The novel is told in a series of letters and journals by some of the main characters of the novel. It opens with Jonathon Harker’s experience as a guest at Dracula’s castle. Soon after, Dracula makes the crossing to England and the real meat of the story begins. Lest you be worried, Van Helsing is a prominent character in the novel.

Perhaps the mere fact the book was penned in 1897 turns readers off. The language is dated, but it’s not like we’re talking Middle English here. Anyone who enjoys the works of Ann Radcliffe, the Bronte sisters, and Jane Austen will not find the language disconcerting at all.

The plot is interesting and it’s nice to finally put the pieces together of where much of the vampire lore stems from. While not the true father of the genre, Stoker’s novel nonetheless has greatly influenced the canon of books and films that came after it, much of them paying homage to this work. One need only look to the film, Van Helsing to see the range of Stoker’s influence.

I do think the book takes a little while to get into your system-much like the slow process of turning into an undead vampire. I remember when I read this book that I sound down with it during my three hour block break from my high school class and by then, I was hooked. And if nothing else, I am a firm believer in experiencing formative works in literature, no matter how dry they might be. If you consider yourself a great reader, writer, or student of literature, reading the classics is a requirement.