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Ratings and Reviews (6 18 star ratings
6 reviews
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4.3 out of 5
18
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    The Shadow Land

    Not what i was expecting having read her other works. Still, a good story.
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    Not worth your time

    I am Bulgarian. For a long time I thought what single word could give the most accurate description of “The Shadow Land" - I believe it’s "superficial". I found out about Elizabeth Kostova from her interview in a Bulgarian newspaper, published three weeks ago. I was intrigued by the fact that her first novel “The Historian” had pushed “The Da Vinci Code” from the top place in the NYT Bestseller list. Since the author is American, I chose to read the novel in her native language - English, in .epub format. The pace of the story is slow. Things only start happening about 25% into the book (the pages in the English version are not numbered...). Unlike Martin Cruise Smith's "Gorky Park" or Tom Rob Smith's "Child 44". In both works the narrative also evolves in former communist countries, but they conquered me from the first chapter and kept me going until the end. Several times I decided to drop the book, but I kept persisting, which I regret. Not for the 12 USD I paid for the electronic version, but for the 17 hours I spent reading it. I could not make a connection between the story line of the childhood of the main heroine and the other two main story lines. Extremely irritating is the change of names of Bulgarian towns and landmarks. If Sofia can be Sofia, or Venice - Venice... There are many factual mistakes and inconsistencies in the plot. For example the main villain begins his political career when almost 75 years old, being a former communist state security official… Quite impossible in the present political situation in Bulgaria. There are also annoying ridiculous mistakes - in the Bulgarian army, the soldiers "wrap their legs with rags in order not to be cold". No army in the world has such a disgraceful attitude towards hygiene, as described for the Bulgarian army during communism... (Being a Bulgarian I also served in the army in the early '80ies) In a typical simplistic style, so the mass American reader can swallow the eschewed reality in former communist Bulgaria, many of the characters are without realistic sophistication... Except for the main character, of course. Whose struggle for survival in the labor camp annoyingly and uninterruptedly continues nearly 20% of the book. For some reason, it seems to me that the psychological moment is borrowed directly from Henri Charriere's "Papillon” ... The happy ending (last 8%) is further disappointing. What leaves the most bitter taste, however, is the use of Bulgaria as a backdrop of a floppy black novel. Despite the fact that in the author's notes Mrs. Kostova claims she is in love with her second homeland. I am unimpressed that in the first decade of the 21st century Bulgaria is presented as an unpleasant and ugly place because of the still evident traces of Communist time and people are afraid of the institutions...
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    Insightful work about Bulgarian history, culture

    I am voluntarily submitting my honest review after receiving an ARC of this ebook from NetGalley. After reading The Historian, I had high expectations going into this book. While I wasn't precisely disappointed, I can't say that The Shadow Land was better. Still, I did enjoy this book a great deal. In this work, In this work, the protagonist, an American tourist fleeing her own grief following the death of her brother, ends up with an urn containing the human remains of a stranger when she helps an elderly couple into a cab in and accidentally keeps one of their parcels. As she tries to return the urn to the rightful owners, we are taken on a exploration of the Bulgarian police state with all of its attendant horrors. But Kostova also weaves in elements of the sublime as she describes the landscape, culture and heart of Bulgaria and her people. This juxtaposition of brutality and beauty illustrates the tension created by the attempts to oppress a people who despite knowing loss, fear and evil, have found a way to endure, survive and even triumph through courage and compassion. The only flaw for me was that the ending rang false in that it was just a bit too bright. Otherwise, this was a great read that provided much insight into Bulgarian history and culture even though it is a work of fiction.
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    The Shadow Land

    Set in modern Bulgaria, a young American women visiting Sophia, who while assisting an elderly couple into a taxicab, mistakenly takes a bag containing an urn of human ashes. This sets off a cross country search for the family. This journey will unearth the dark secrets of the brutal horrors of Bulgaria's communist past. Lovely writing.
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    Slow Start But Stick With It. Its Worth It!

    I received this book through Netgalley and I’m glad I did. It is a slow start but the second half moves full throttle. I enjoyed this book. It is a mystery with history of Bulgaria. I found learning about Bulgaria very interesting. The first half of the book is about an American teacher, Alexandra, accidentally keeping a family’s urn of ashes. It is the journey of Alexandra and a taxi driver, Bobby, to locate the rightful owners. They go to the police station, a monastery, family relatives and other dwellings. The first half moves slowly but the pieces come together. Seeds of suspense are dropped at various locations. The second half of the book is more about the person in the urn, a musician, and his history. There is much information about labor camps in Bulgaria from 1944 – 1984. Once you get to the halfway point, the book is hard to put down. Stick with it – it’s worth it.
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