Monday, April 3, 2017

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

This is another door stopper (but luckily in eBook format) from Elizabeth Kostova. I've read her debut work, The Historian, a couple of years back and while I don't really remember it, the Goodreads review says that I quite enjoy it (as I quite enjoyed this one).

The Shadow Land is a sort-of mystery. Alexandra Boyd has just arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria when she realises that she accidentally took an urn. Containing human ashes. The name on the box is "Stoyan Lazarov", and as she tries to return the urn (with the help of a friendly taxi driver nicknamed Bobby), she finds threats and danger lurking. And she also finds out more about Stoyan Lazarov, a gifted violinist as she tries to figure out why having his urn is so dangerous.

When I get a really, really thick book, I like to skip to the back to see how it ends (yes, I know, it's odd and I shouldn't do it). In this case, skipping to the last 50 pages didn't help because you really have to read the entire life story of Stoyan to understand what is going on, which means that I'd have to read the second half of the book in its entirety to get any spoilers.

That said, the way the information was doled out was pretty interesting, and I felt that it helped to increase the tension in the second half because I kept reading on to find out more. (The beginning was a bit slow for me)

As for the characters - sorry, Alexandra, but Bobby is the star of the show. Alexandra is likeable enough, but I basically got her entire backstory in the first few chapters, while Bobby was continually surprising me over the course of this almost 500 page book. Obviously, the surprising character is the one that made a bigger impact.

Apart from Bobby and Alexandra, there is a whole cast of supporting characters (and Stoyan), though I only really remember Stoyan, his wife, Neven and Irina. The rest just sort of blended together. The villain was pretty clear and quite menacing, though the 'twist' for one of the bad guys was difficult to understand.

If you don't mind slow starts and like long books set somewhere different, then you'll probably enjoy this book. The mystery was enough to keep me reading to the end, and I really enjoyed the way the past was revealed in the present (reminded me a little of the Night Garden series)

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. I loved Kostova's The Historian and so am really curious about this one. A friend who also read this one said her favorite part was Stoyan's story. I admit I don't read as many big, slow starting books as I once did, and so I'm hesitant to dive into this one just yet, but I do want to read it.

    1. Yeah, I find myself reading less books with slow starts, but this one reminded me why it can be worthwhile to hang in there. Hope you get a chance to read it!


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