April 2017 Indie Next List
“This is one of the most engrossing novels that I've read in a while. It is ultimately a road trip through the beautiful haunted land of Bulgaria. An American woman arrives to teach English and inadvertently picks up the wrong bag while getting into a taxi. The bag holds a beautiful wooden box containing human remains. Her helpful, enigmatic taxi driver takes her into Bulgaria's unsettled present in search of the family that surely wants the urn back. It is the fleshing out (pun intended) of the person embodied by the ashes that makes this work intriguing and heart-wrenching. This novel about self-discovery and historical reconciliation is thrilling, introspective, and very well paced.”
— Dianne Patrick (W), Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI
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
"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
"The 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."--Richard Russo, author of Everybody's Fool
"Transporting . . . draws us into Bulgarian history and character revelation like an elegant, mysterious labyrinth. Page-turning, evocative, and richly imagined."--Dominic Smith, author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
Praise for Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian
"Quite extraordinary . . . Kostova is a natural storyteller. . . . She has refashioned the vampire myth into a compelling contemporary novel, a late-night page-turner."--San Francisco Chronicle
"Hypnotic . . . a thrill ride through history."--The Denver Post
"Part thriller, part history, part romance . . . Kostova has a keen sense of storytelling and she has a marvelous story to tell."--Baltimore Sun
Praise for The Swan Thieves
"Exquisite."--The Boston Globe
"Engrossing."--O: The Oprah Magazine
"Stunning . . . A beautifully written tale of art, love and an obsession triggered by both."--Associated Press
About the Author
Elizabeth Kostova is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Swan Thieves and The Historian. She graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award for Novel-in-Progress. She is also co-founder of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation for Creative Writing in Bulgaria.