The Shadow Land

The Shadow Land

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"From the #1 bestselling author of The Historian comes an engrossing novel that spans the past and the present--and unearths the dark secrets of Bulgaria, a beautiful and haunted country. 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 oppression--and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger. Kostova's new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss. Praise for Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian "Quite extraordinary. Kostova is a natural storyteller. She has refashioned the vampire myth into a compelling contemporary novel, a late-night page-turner."--San Francisco Chronicle "Hypnotic. a thrill ride through history."--The Denver Post "Part thriller, part history, part romance. Kostova has a keen sense of storytelling and she has a marvelous story to tell."--Baltimore Sun "Kostova's vampire is no campy Lugosi knockoff. Blending history and myth, Kostova has fashioned a version so fresh that when a stake is finally driven through a heart, it inspires the tragic shock of something happening for the very first time."--Newsweek Praise for The Swan Thieves "Exquisite."--The Boston Globe "Engrossing."--O: The Oprah Magazine "Stunning. A beautifully written tale of art, love and an obsession triggered by both."--Associated Press"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780345527868
Branch Call Number: KOSTOVA
Characteristics: 478 pages ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Shadowland


From Library Staff

ArapahoeSummer Aug 05, 2017

I found both story lines compelling and full of rich historical detail. While sometimes tragic and heartbreaking, Lazarov's story gripped me, and I finished the book wishing his past had been brought in earlier in the novel.

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Jan 29, 2018

A young woman, Alexandra, still grieving a brother’s death, arrives in Sofia, Bulgaria, a country both she and her brother wanted to visit. Leaving a hotel just after arriving, she inadvertently ends up with a tote bag belonging to a family she helped get to their taxi. The rest of the story involves her efforts—along with a resourceful taxi driver—to return the bag’s contents. The book has epic proportions and a thriller sensibility.

Well done literary thriller if a little long and stretched belief at some points. Maybe a bit ambitious, maybe read too soon after reading much better ‘The Prague Sonata.’ Others may like more.

Jan 09, 2018

I just couldn't get into this book. There was such an implausible connection between the main two characters and their unending journey into the depths of Bulgaria. I had high expectations for the book, but couldn't finish it. Too long, to convoluted and not believable enough for me.

SusanH_KCMO Oct 04, 2017

I was excited to get a copy of this book, knowing how good The Historian was, but I found it a disappointing followup. I couldn't engage with the characters. In fact, they seemed somewhat shallow. The book dragged and I found myself having to press on in hopes it would get better. The premise was good. I won't go into it very far in order to avoid a spoiler, but it's about an American young woman who goes to Bulgaria to teach. Through a taxi mix up, she discovers she is in possession of someone's urn with ashes. The book takes her on a journey to get it back to the rightful owners. Maybe I was expecting too much from the book, and though I read it completely, it left me unsatisfied and now I want to re read The Historian to experience her talent as a writer. I hope her next book will be more engaging.

AliReads Sep 28, 2017

I was lucky enough to see Elizabeth Kostova when she was in Christchurch promoting this book. Her stories of her own time in Bulgaria were fascinating - In her student days she visited the country while researching Bulgarian folk music - and while she was there, the Berlin Wall came down.  It was a fascinating time in history then - and her book draws on even more Bulgarian history, from the 1940s onwards. It's dark, yes, but important.

It's a historical mystery, a thriller, and a beautiful piece of literary fiction all in one

ArapahoeSummer Aug 05, 2017

I found both story lines compelling and full of rich historical detail. While sometimes tragic and heartbreaking, Lazarov's story gripped me, and I finished the book wishing his past had been brought in earlier in the novel.

Jul 17, 2017

The descriptions in this book are gorgeous; I could just see the scenery she painted with her words! I got a little tired of the premise that both the protagonist and her taxi driver could just take off driving with no changes of clothes, etc. from one small village to another for days on end in an attempt to return the cremated remains. That strained my credulity. However, the characters were well-drawn and I was rooting for all of them, except Momo. Lovely writing!

ehbooklover Jun 11, 2017

4.5 stars. I have been waiting for a new Elizabeth Kostova novel for a while now and she did not disappoint. The complex characters, the evocative writing, the tense and twisty plot, the beautiful and haunting setting...all of these ingredients added up to a book that I could not wait to pick up at the end of a long day. I loved this one!

SnoIsleLib_DeniseD May 17, 2017

Balkan history intrigues me. Ottoman rule. Soviet control. What a fascinating land of shadows. As a modern history of Bulgaria, this riveting story is both informative and intriguing. My only problem with the story is the tangential feel of Alexa's backstory. I left wanting to know more about her future and less about her past.

SPL_Shauna May 16, 2017

I've previously loved Kostova's fiction, but I had a hard time with this one! There was a dynamic between the two main characters that bugged me a bit - she's always looking to him to solve the problem. He has the car and the smarts; she has... I dunno, a firm moral compass and some demons to exorcise from her past? Sigh. At one point, she literally faints. I could. Not. Deal.

Still, the setting is lovely, and for readers unfamiliar with communism in Eastern Europe, the book is a lyrical introduction that pulls no punches. Indeed, I kind of wished the book skipped the entire modern-day plot and just told the story of the Lazarovi. But, overall, if you loved The Historian, you'll probably find this to be an enjoyable enough read to pass the time.

SCL_Tricia May 10, 2017

I enjoyed the history and location in this book but I feel like I didn't relate to the characters as much as I wanted to. I kept reading because I wanted to know more about the history but I found the present day story was stiff.

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