Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Review of The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

When Alexandra Boyd arrives in Sofia to start her position as an English teacher, she doesn’t know what to expect of Bulgaria. The Eastern European country is as far away as she can possibly go from her home in the Appalachian Mountains, and from the tragic loss of her beloved brother.

Upon her arrival in the city, Alexandra is dropped off by mistake at a hotel where she goodheartedly helps an elderly couple into a taxi. When the vehicle drives off, Alexandra realizes that she has accidentally taken one of their bags.

Inside the bag is a small wooden box containing an urn with human ashes. Realizing that this box is undoubtedly sorely missed, Alexandra sets out to return it to the couple to whom it belongs. If only she can find them.

Like Alexandra, most readers of The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova (Ballantine Books, April 2017) will be visiting Bulgaria for the first time. The customs, the villages, the culture, and the history come to life in a country that surprises at every turn.

But much more than that, The Shadow Land delves into Bulgaria’s troubling post-World War 2 years and the consequences of the Communists’ rise to power. The narrative proceeds in two parallel timelines, following Alexandra’s quest for the owners of the urn while also telling the story of musician Stoyan Lazarov, sent to a labor camp due to nothing more than his assumed opposition to the country’s leadership.

The Shadow Land is a page-turning adventure, a gripping tale told in eloquent language and with totally believable characters. It is much more than a travel tale of Alexandra’s journeys, for it is also an introduction to Bulgaria, to its painful past and its hope for the future.

Elizabeth Kostova is an American author best known for The Historian, the first debut novel to land at number one on The New York Times bestseller list in its first week of sales. She 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.

1 comment:

  1. Both the writer and the reviewer have something in common -they are un- apologetically consumed with history. A scifi writer had said it that history is the raw data.Same applies to most of these serious or salacious plotting Ellis & Elizabeth Kostova are engaged doing not only to make extra useful bucks spendable on treating the writing disease itself but also ventilate their hearts with clean blood and better breathing wherever they are alone or with their loved ones.I congratulate Ellis for embracing a general writing genre authorship. gbemi tijani mst