The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
Page Count: 496
Published by: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books (April 11, 2017)
Genre: Literature & Fiction/Suspense
My Rating: 5+/5
A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi—and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.
As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by political oppression—and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.
I have been a fan of Kostova since I read The Historian several years ago, so when I was asked to review her new novel; I jumped at the opportunity. I have to say – I was not, at all, disappointed by The Shadow Lands. It was quite the opposite! This book grabbed me within the first few pages and took me on an amazing journey to a whole other world, a mystical world of Eastern Europe.
So here is what I thought about the mechanical parts of the novel…
Kostova was able to weave an intriguing history lesson through the eyes of her, very well-developed and thoughtful, characters by intertwining the past and present, simultaneously. I was absolutely blown away by her ability to captivate my attention, while she spanned several generations, and amazed by how she never lost me along the way.
It’s no secret I enjoy history, and The Shadow Lands delivered such a wonderful lesson about the trials and tribulations Eastern Europe faced during the Great World Wars. To be honest, I didn’t even realize this book was almost 500 pages, until I sat down to write this review. I was so completely engrossed in the story I forgot I was even reading. (That’s when you know a book is great! Am I right?) I found myself devouring each and every word within these pages, long into the early morning hours (ahem, sometimes until 4:00 AM). I would absolutely highly recommend this book. It is phenomenal!
About the Author:
Elizabeth Kostova was born in Connecticut in 1964. She is the author of three novels, The Historian (Little, Brown, 2005), The Swan Thieves (Little, Brown, 2010), and The Shadow Land (Random House, 2017). The Historian was the first debut novel in U.S. publishing history to debut at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List, has been translated into 40 languages, and won Quill and Independent Bookseller Awards. The Swan Thieves was also a New York Times Bestseller and has been translated into 28 languages. Her short fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in such periodicals and anthologies as The Mississippi Review, Poets & Writers Magazine, The Best American Poetry, The Michigan Quarterly, and Another Chicago Magazine. Kostova has taught in programs at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the University of Michigan, Drexel University, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and Penn State– as well as at the Sozopol Seminars on the Bulgarian Black Sea and Bear River Writers’ Conference in northern Michigan. She reads and lectures internationally and is co-founder of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, which provides competitive opportunities for Bulgarian writers and translators, as well as opportunities for native-English writers to travel to Bulgaria. She also serves on the University Council of the American University of Bulgaria in Blagoevgrad and as Vice President of the Pen & Plate Club in North Carolina. She has received awards for service from the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture and the town of Sozopol. Kostova holds a B.A. in British Studies from Yale College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she won Hopwood Awards in both fiction and non-fiction.
Until next time!
P.S. Here goes the little disclaimer…
Thanks goes to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books and Netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to review this book prior to publication. All opinions expressed in this review are solely mine and I did not receive any payment.