Saturday, May 6, 2017

Review: The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova


  Title:  The Shadow Land 
  Author: Elizabeth Kostova (Website)
  Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 11, 2017)
  Length: 496 pages
  Source: Good Reads and Random House


About the Book: (From Goodreads):
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.

My Review: The Shadow Land by Elizabeth is told from two points of view.  The view of Alexandra, an American that came to Sophia, Bulgaria to teach English.   The Shadow Land starts with Alexandra accidently becoming into possession of the ashes of Stroyan Lazarov.  She begins a wild goose chase of a trip to find the family of Stroyan Lazarov to return the ashes.  She starts this trip with a taxi driver, Bobby.  During their trip they escape danger, become close and meet many interesting individuals connected to Stroyan Lazarov.  Through their travels, we find out more and more about Stroyan.  Will they ever get Stroyan’s ashes back to his family???

Stroyan Lazarov also told the story of his life in Bulgaria during the communist regime.  Stroyan was very in loved with and married to Vera.  Stroyan was a very talented musician with his career derailed due to the communist regime.  Stroyan answers the door of his apartment one night and was met by the police and taken into custody.  The abuse and mistreatment that began is disturbing.  It is made even more disturbing by Elizabeth Kostova’s skillful, vivid descriptions.  Stroyan is a strong man with the ability to get lost in this thoughts.  Secrets are revealed and the connect between the past and present come to the forefront. 

Elizabeth Kostova’s writing and descriptions of Bulgaria are beautiful.  Kostova provides a very vivid snapshot of Bulgaria during two distinctly different times in history.  I found myself re-reading a sentence here and there due to skill of the writing.  I found The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova to be character driven.  The character, Stroyan Lazarov entered the story in an Urn and became my favorite and the most developed character.   Kostova provided such a detailed description of Stroyan’s life in the prison camp that you could even smell the scents of the camp.  Stroyan’s story was very compelling and moving as he struggled throughout life with the effect of the communist regime. 

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova is slow to build. Once Stroyan begins to tell his story,the pace increases and the pages fly by.  I decided to read a bit of The Shadowland this morning with my coffee at 6:30am….soon I find myself riveted to my seat until I finished the book around noon.  What a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning!!    The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova receives a 4 star rating from me.   I so enjoyed my travels around Bulgaria.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova was received from Ballantine Books through giveaway in exchange for a fair review.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

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