Books & Lit
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On my bookshelf…

I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time now. The idea came to me during my last trip back home, when I eventually managed to finish that dreaded “Historian” novel I’d been dragging around for the last couple of months (!!). It’s true, I’ve since read another 600 page book & am currently half way through a third one but…whatever. This is not the time to get into my procrastination issues 😆 So, instead of dwelling on the amount of time that has passed, I’ll just jump straight in & record my thoughts about my 2 latest reads.

“The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova

Apparently a debut novel, this first made its way to the bookstore shelves around the summer of 2005. I, however, only got hold of it around the end of 2006. Which was just as well since, somehow, wintertime seemed much more appropriate for this modern twist of the Dracula legend. I briefly forgot all about my motto (“Expect the worse…”) and happily dove into the book as soon as I bought it.

I quickly realized this was gonna put my willpower to the test. Don’t get me wrong, the book does have its strengths. Part atmospheric thriller, part travel diary & part love story it manages to engage the reader with its novel concept (the story being revealed partly through flashbacks and old private letters) and varied characters. Problem is there is a limit to the number of pages any story will keep you hooked for, no matter how interesting. And at 720 pages (using such a small font) that limit is reached quite soon. Even at the height of the story, when I should have been eagerly turning the pages yearning for the story’s conclusion to reveal itself to me, I found my self struggling with endless descriptions and counting pages to go before…before I could congratulate myself on not having given up on the whole thing 😦

Personal views aside, the book could prove to be a gem for those who enjoy history, travel and exploring different cultures (as long as they are not suffering from ADD, like I do). Still, my first impression was spot on & I’m sticking to my guns. This is definitely not something I’d recommend for summer reading…

“The Secret of Crickley Hall” by James Herbert

I’m afraid to say that, even though Mr. Herbert is hailed as England’s answer to Stephen King, I was blissfully unaware of him and his work until recently. A few weeks ago, I was in Brussels’ airport getting ready for one of my many trips & -typically- popped into a Relay, in search of something to read on the plane. Amongst the many books there, I ended up choosing “The Secret of Crickley Hall”. I suddenly felt like a good ghost story & that promised to do the trick.

I wasn’t dissapointed. The main premise of the book was cleverly crafted (a family leaving London in an effort to escape its demons, gets way more than it bargained for…), the characters varied and interesting (with the former occupants of Crickley Hall getting a much more thorough treatment) and, despite the length of the book (approximately 600 pages) & the occassional “deja vu” feeling, the storyline managed to keep you hooked until the very end. The fact that the tension built up slowly, then spiraled into a frenzy of relentless revelations and developments surely had much to do with that.

All in all, a typical haunted house novel that will keep you pleasantly occupied, then wrap itself up neatly in a “good triumphs, evil’s doomed” manner. Give it a try…

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