The Historian takes Bran Stoker’s Dracula and links him to his historical inspiration: Vlad III, the fifteenth century prince of Wallachia, known as Vlad the Impaler. The narrator is a woman who, at age 16, stumbled across the journal of her father, the story’s protagonist, a former diplomat and professor named Paul. Most of the book is then told from Paul’s point-of-view, either from his journal or conversations with his daughter. It begins when Paul, as a graduate student, discovers a strange book that someone left on his desk in the university library: a small tome the size of a prayer missal with vellum pages that opened to the center, bearing the woodcut design of a winged dragon and a single word: “Drakulya.” The rest of the book’s pages are blank, but they reek of decay and the smell of corrupted flesh.
Paul shows the book to his friend and advisor, Prof. Rossi, who happens to possess a similar copy, both printed in Central Europe in about 1512. Rossi claims the copy was left on his desk as a graduate student, just like Paul’s, and it led him to conduct research on Vlad the Impaler, a tyrant and enemy of the Ottoman Turks. Rossi traveled all the way to Istanbul where he discovered a chilling truth: Vlad Dracula is still alive.
Not long after this revelation, Rossi disappears and the implication is that Dracula, or one of his minions, has taken him. What ensues is Paul’s quest to find his mentor, and to do so, he must find the secret location of Dracula’s tomb. Paul is aided in his quest by a dark-haired beauty named Helen, who turns out to be Rossi’s daughter. Their relationship, and ultimately, lover affair, enriches the story, but it’s their attempt to unravel the historical mystery behind Dracula’s whereabouts that I enjoyed the most.