The Shadow Land

The Shadow Land

A Novel

eBook - 2017
Average Rating:
8
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From the #1 bestselling author of The Historian comes a mesmerizing novel that spans the past and the present—and unearths the troubled history of a gorgeous but 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 political oppression—and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger. Elizabeth 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. Advance praise for The Shadow Land (S2(BIn The Shadow Land, Elizabeth Kostova, a master storyteller, brings vividly to life an unfamiliar country—Bulgaria—and a painful history that feels particularly relevant now. You won’t want to put down this remarkable book.(S3(B—Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs (S2(BIn this brilliant work, what appears at first a minor mystery quickly becomes emblematic of a whole country’s hidden history. Lyrical and compelling, The Shadow Land proves a profound meditation on how evil is inflicted, endured, and, through courage and compassion, defeated. Elizabeth Kostova’s third novel clearly establishes her as one of America’s finest writers.(S3(B—Ron Rash, author of The Risen (S2(BThe Shadow Land is thrilling, and not just as a gripping tale. It’s also thrilling to watch such a talented writer cast her spell. The central character actually begins this deft novel in an urn, only to emerge as one of the most memorable characters I’ve encountered in a long time.(S3(B—Richard Russo, author of Everybody’s Fool (S2(BTransporting . . . draws us into Bulgarian history and character revelation like an elegant, mysterious labyrinth. Page-turning, evocative, and richly imagined.(S3(B—Dominic Smith, author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos Praise for Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian (S2(BQuite extraordinary . . . Kostova is a natural storyteller. . . . She has refashioned the vampire myth into a compelling contemporary novel, a late-night page-turner.(S3(B—San Francisco Chronicle (S2(BHypnotic . . . a thrill ride through history.(S3(B—The Denver Post (S2(BPart thriller, part history, part romance . . . Kostova has a keen sense of storytelling and she has a marvelous story to tell.(S3(B—Baltimore Sun Praise for The Swan Thieves (S2(BExquisite.(S3(B—The Boston Globe (S2(BEngrossing.(S3(B—O: The Oprah Magazine (S2(BStunning . . . A beautifully written tale of art, love and an obsession triggered by both.(S3(B—Associated Press
Publisher: [S.l.]: Random House Publishing Group, 2017
ISBN: 9780345527882
Characteristics: 496 p
Additional Contributors: cloudLibrary

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AL_SUMMER 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.

r
reader925
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.

s
SaturdayLibrarian
Apr 19, 2017

Alexandra Boyd arrives in Bulgaria to teach and while helping an elderly couple into a taxi, she later realizes she has one of their bags. Determined to return the bag to its rightful owner she sets out on a journey of unexpected mystery, danger, history, and healing.

m
maucarden
Apr 14, 2017

orothy's quest to meet The Wizard. As I am writing this, (all proud of my cleverness)I realize there is a character named The Wizard. (Duh) But he actually isn't the THE Wizard.
Our Dorothy, Alexandra, is a young woman newly arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria to teach. Alexandra is also on a pilgrimage of sorts for her brother who died young in a hiking accident. Alexandra is almost destroyed by her burden of guilt. So when by trying to do a good deed for a small little family group, she ends up with cremains, Alexandra is horrified. Unh uh, no way is she going to bear this guilt.
Alexandra meets up with her Scarecrow, a taxi driver named Bobby, who joins her on this quest to find three people in Bulgaria when she doesn't know their name, phone, or address. Although she soon catches a break on the name.
Bobby is the ultimate Scarecrow with skills and secrets of his own. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a Bobby in their life.
Alexandra and Bobby's journey on the YBR is a physical and historical journey through Bulgaria. A journey of light and darkness. Early on they discover the name of the man whose remains they hold, Stoyan Lazarov, a violinist of exceptional skill. It is his story we begin to learn. The story of his incredible skill as a violinist, his abiding love for his Vera, and his long dark journey into the hell of the Bulgarian gulags.
Alexandra and Bobby find themselves in danger almost from the beginning. It takes a long while to discover by whom and even longer to discover why. As Alexandra and Bobby begin to meet Stoyan's family and friends, they discover his journeys into hell are almost balanced by the beauty of these F and Fs. Kostova paints her characters as lovingly a Sargent or a Casset.
There is a distraction at first when some of the chapters are told by Alexandra's POV, This distraction soon disappears. This about the only discordant note I can think of.
I don't think I have to words to describe Kostova's description of Stoyan's music. Her descriptions, are, well, music. But all of Kostova's descriptions are lovely. Sometimes I just skim wordy descriptions, in Kostova's case I savor her words.
For all the right reasons, this book takes commitment. It is a journey well worth taking.

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