Monday, May 28, 2018
THE SHADOW LAND (2017) by Elizabeth Kostova
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
FIRST SENTENCE: "Sofia, the year 2008."
THE STORY: Alexandra, mourning the loss of her brother, has traveled to Bulgaria to teach English and to see the country he always planned to visit. She arrives at the wrong hotel and ends up helping an older couple and their son into a cab. As they pull away she realizes she still holds one of their bags, which contains human ashes. Flagging another cab, she begins a search for the family. Eventually the story focuses on the extraordinary life of Stoyan Lazarov, whose ashes she now protects.
WHAT I THOUGHT: About halfway through I vowed to mark this DNF, something I am loath to do. The writing is beautiful but the tale was taking on aspects of a shaggy dog story. I decided to give it one more try and it was definitely worth the effort. The story intensified combining past and current events. As with THE HISTORIAN, I turned to the Internet to further research the things I was learning.
In this story Kostova returns to the Eastern European terrain of THE HISTORIAN writing about the topography of present-day Bulgaria. She is a wonderful story teller and paints a picture of Bulgaria, both good and bad, that makes one want to immediately buy a ticket and travel there.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a long book. If you are prepared to settle back and enjoy the scenery, it will eventually draw you in. For those who love historical fiction, suspense, and mystery. RECOMMENDED.
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition (stated), First Printing edition (April 11, 2017)
DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-copy of Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova from NetGalley/Ballantine Books for my honest review.
Elizabeth Kostova's engrossing debut novel is the culmination of ten years of research and a lifetime of imagining--since Kostova's girlhood, when her father entertained her with tales of Dracula, she has envisioned the story that would become The Historian. With her academic spirit and extraordinary talent, she's spun an intricate tale of sprawling mystery and suspense. Kostova graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won the Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress. (from Amazon)