Reading back to back: Dracula vs The Historian

Have you ever felt the need, after finishing a book, to read another one on a similar subject?

It happens to me a lot. It’s also a fun way of discovering more beautiful stories out there.

I’m a huge fan of myths and legends. I first read Stoker’s Dracula when I was ten, and have read it again and again ever since (fifteen times and counting!). I read The Historian a couple of months ago, and I was fascinated by its historical accuracy, the geographical components, the sense of danger it creates to you as you red through. So, here goes, these are two books you should absolutely try reading back to back.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Victorian London: Jonathan Harker, a real estate employee, is requested to travel for work to the faraway land of Transylvania. His job is to draw the final contract of land ownership for an old Transylvanian nobleman, Count Dracula. Leaving his fiancee, Mina, behind, Harker will soon realize that everything about the Count reeks of danger. Old legends are true, and the Count is more than meets the eye.

This is the most iconic, let alone famous, work of fiction about Dracula. Stoker reimagined tha historical Voivode of Wallachia in a mysterious, intriguing, and dangerous way. It is not about gruesome details, as you might find in many present fiction books. It’s about the mysterious atmosphere. You don’t need to see the fangs to see the vampire. You feel the terror that the Count imposes, and that is more than enough. What makes this book phenomenal is the way of writing, even more than the story itself. So is it possible to read fiction without having read Dracula?

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

“To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my History….”

An ancient book like no other lies in a private library. Its pages are all empty but the middle ones. There, in the middle, lies a massive dragon. And the history behind it is almost unbelievable..

The Historian has been searching for an evil source that shouldn’t be alive, a legend that is not supposed to exist. A wild chase begins, from 1930s Istanbul to 1950s Budapest, and from Bulgaria to France. Three generations are on the hunt, each one getting closer to the truth than the one before. Many beng will try to stop them, but many more will offer their help and courage. Are the legends absolutely true? And if so, how can you stop an evil so massive?

Kostova writes about a story long told before, but that doesn’t make the story any less interesting. An absolutely beautiful tale, based on a sometimes eerie atmosphere, it will hold your attention from the first to the last page. Kostova is massively inspired by Dracula, not only regarding the story, but also the way of narrating. She has a very interesting way to emerge you in the plot so mush so, that you end up believing you are the one on the hunt. You are travelling, searching. Budapest is so clear to you, as if you are actually there. And you await the end of the chase, as if this is actually personal to you.

If you’re not sure why you should be reading both…

The similarities in the books is quite intriguing. But at the same time, they are clearly two different stories. And this is what makes them ideal for a back to back reading. If you loved Dracula, the Historian is probably what you should be reading next. Through its details, it becomes truly fascinating, and does not let you down. If you haven’t read Dracula yet…well, here’s a good chance for you. Set both books on your list, and we wish you happy reading!

5 books to read if you love magic

Magic..The thing we love about it the most, is probably its infinite possibilites. No wonder books around magic fascinate us so much. I haven’t put the Harry Potter series in this list. Not beacause they’re not good, of course (Hufflepuff for life, here!), but because we all know them. So here are some relatively less known, but really good books for you if magic is your thing.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

The year is 1806, and England believes magic has been long dead. Out of the blue, Mr Norrell arrives in London, along with his vast library and extensive knowledge of magic. Not long after that, a young practician of magic, Jonathan Strange, arrives in town. Between theory and practice, the last two magicians of England will either work together to save the nation in the Napoleonic Wars, or fight to the death, taking England with them as they fall. Is maybe Magic more dangerous than it is useful for this land?

Od Magic, by Patricia A. McKillip

Brenden has been born with a gift.The land can communicate with him, and plants thrive under his touch.An outcast of his village, he will soon meet the Great Wizard Od. Brenden accepts her invitation to become a gardener in her School of Magic, and it is there that he will discover that his gift is much more powerful than he thought, to the point that he himself could become a danger to the Kingdom.

M is for Magic, by Neil Gaiman

Sometimes you just need some short stories instead of “the long thing”. This is a collection of eleven short stories from fairytales and magical realms. Full of mystery, humor and suspense, they are scary, sad and happy at the same time. A fascinating collection.

Brownies and Broomsticks , by Bailey Cates

For the fans of mystery books, this is the first book from a series called Magical Bakery Mysteries. Katie Lightfoot is a Hedgewitch with a culinary diploma. Moving to Savannah, Georgia, she hopes to start a new life. When a man is found dead outside her newly established baker, Katie will use her wits and magical powers to help the police unravel the mystery. And maybe, along the way, love will be waiting for her.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgestern

This list would not be complete without this masterpiece.

The circus arrives without warning.Just like out of thin air, you will see it appear one morning. Its doors open only after dark. Inside, magical things will appear, and behind the scenes, two powerful magicians are secretly planning the next moves of their duel.

 

7 books for a ‘mental’ getaway: the books that will transport you to other places!

Most of us can’t afford to  travel too often, but there is always an amazing alternative to that: books! Books can transport you, not only to different places, and also to different eras. Here are seven choices that will do the trick for you – and they’re amazingly written, too!

The Historian

The Historian will guide you through three different eras. Using stories within stories, you will meet London, Istanbul, Budapest, Sofia, Crete, and many more places. Kostova’s book is truly a masterpiece, and you will soon find you can’t let that book off your hands!

The Medici Curse

There’s no place like…wait for it…Florence! Yes, Florence in the Medici era, and back today, and back again… A hunt for the background story of a mysterious painting will guide you through Florence and Tuscan villages in summertime.

Rivers of London

Rivers of London follows a young policeman who discovers magic actually exists, and his hunt for a supernatural felon in the streets of London. The story is set in the present, but is nonetheless very well written.

The Axeman’s Jazz

An absolute must-read, Axeman’s Jazz takes you to New Orleans in 1919. And as if that wasn’t fascinating enough, you will follow the hunt for one of the most notorious serial killers of that time, the Axeman of New Orleans. Ready to pick up the book yet?

The White Tiger

Travel to India and watch the life of Barlam Halwai, as he sets off from a small, poor village to become his own man; finding and overcoming obstacles in various, sometimes dubious ways.

The Miniaturist

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam, follow the life of Nella Oortman is she leaves her home and gets married into a wealthy, yet peculiar family of sugar traders. Beautifully written, historically detailed and with a plot twist that will make you gasp- the Miniaturist is absolutely worth reading!

Silver in the blood

1890, Bucharest, Romania. Dacia and Lou arrive from New York to meet their maternal family, but they find much more than what they expected. A beautiful fantasy novel that truly makes you wan to travel to Romania.