Shadow Land

Shadow Land

Book - 2017
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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.

Praise for The Shadow Land

"A compelling and complex mystery, strong storytelling, and lyrical writing combine for an engrossing read." --Publishers Weekly

"In 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." --Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs

"In 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." --Ron Rash, author of The Risen
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, 2017
ISBN: 9780345527868
0345527860
Branch Call Number: 3564MISC 1

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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 exo... Read More »


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EmilyEm
Jan 29, 2018

A young woman, Alexandra, still grieving a brother’s death, arrives in Sofia, Bulgaria, a country both she and her brother wanted to visit. Leaving a hotel just after arriving, she inadvertently ends up with a tote bag belonging to a family she helped get to their taxi. The rest of the story involves her efforts—along with a resourceful taxi driver—to return the bag’s contents. The book has epic proportions and a thriller sensibility.

Well done literary thriller if a little long and stretched belief at some points. Maybe a bit ambitious, maybe read too soon after reading much better ‘The Prague Sonata.’ Others may like more.

r
rgally
Jan 21, 2018

Takes a long long time to get nowhere. Abandoned after slogging my way through 200 pages. I kept hoping it would turn into something resembling The Historian. Sadly it doesn't.
Lovely prose for the most part but rather a disappointment.

d
deepgreenbooks
Jan 09, 2018

I just couldn't get into this book. There was such an implausible connection between the main two characters and their unending journey into the depths of Bulgaria. I had high expectations for the book, but couldn't finish it. Too long, to convoluted and not believable enough for me.

SusanH_KCMO Oct 04, 2017

I was excited to get a copy of this book, knowing how good The Historian was, but I found it a disappointing followup. I couldn't engage with the characters. In fact, they seemed somewhat shallow. The book dragged and I found myself having to press on in hopes it would get better. The premise was good. I won't go into it very far in order to avoid a spoiler, but it's about an American young woman who goes to Bulgaria to teach. Through a taxi mix up, she discovers she is in possession of someone's urn with ashes. The book takes her on a journey to get it back to the rightful owners. Maybe I was expecting too much from the book, and though I read it completely, it left me unsatisfied and now I want to re read The Historian to experience her talent as a writer. I hope her next book will be more engaging.

AliReads Sep 28, 2017

I was lucky enough to see Elizabeth Kostova when she was in Christchurch promoting this book. Her stories of her own time in Bulgaria were fascinating - In her student days she visited the country while researching Bulgarian folk music - and while she was there, the Berlin Wall came down.  It was a fascinating time in history then - and her book draws on even more Bulgarian history, from the 1940s onwards. It's dark, yes, but important.

It's a historical mystery, a thriller, and a beautiful piece of literary fiction all in one

ArapahoeSummer 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.

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