Staff Picks: Vampires in Fiction
Since reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a teen, I’ve been intrigued by vampire fiction—not all vampire stories though. I never got the least bit enthused by the whole Twilight craze and I’ve not been interested in many of the fiction works published in the more recent “all things paranormal” trend. I thought maybe I’d outgrown my interest in vampire fiction. After all, I read through the Ann Rice Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches books like candy when they were all the rage, but even those lost their luster for me after awhile.
A few weeks ago I was browsing the books on CD section and came across The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and read only enough of the description to see that it was a suspenseful story involving old papers read by the daughter of a historian that set her on a quest. That was enough to pique my interest, so I checked it out and off I went to my car to pop it in the CD player. Imagine my surprise when I began listening to what turned out to be a book about Dracula!
While Ann Rice’s books tend to be about the lives of the vampires she features—and that’s all very interesting—Kostova’s book is more in line with Stoker’s. The Historian is really about the characters who are tracking Dracula intending to destroy him. Kostova’s book intertwines history and myth with engaging style and tosses in a bit of romance just for good measure. Her story weaves through time from medieval Europe, to pre-WWII, the Cold War era and even into the 1980’s in both Europe and the U.S as the characters pass down the legacy of discovering the truth about Vlad the Impaler (a.k.a. Dracula), the plague of “vampirism,” and surprisingly, the love of knowledge and books. I couldn’t wait to get back in my car each morning and evening to listen to the tale unwind. (This despite the reader of Dracula’s dialogue sounding much like The Count from Sesame Street.)
As an aside, “The Historian” was Kostova’s first novel and received good reviews at its release. Her second, The Swan Thieves, also has an intriguing premise, but the reader isn’t doing the story justice, in my opinion. Those of you who listen to audiobooks will surely agree that a reader can make or break a story. I think I’ll go old school and check out the book to read instead.
∼Dawn, Public Services Manager, Warrenton central library