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The Shadow Land

I loved The Historian. I never would have picked up this book if I had knows that it had a lengthy multi-chapter explicit concentration camp narrative in the middle of it. The story is otherwise interesting though nowhere near as compelling as The Historian. Kostova reveals in the afterword that this book is more autobiographical which may have something to do with why there are many parts of it that would be interesting-if-true but also make bad fiction. I felt assaulted by the lengthy descriptions of what amounted to torture in the prison camps. I am aware this is true to life and do not want to diminish the suffering of people who were there, but those sort of witness stories are a very specific sort of narrative that I usually avoid. I found myself frequently frustrated reading this book with both the excessive “What I saw when I looked around the town square” sorts of things, the anxious and not-super-compelling main character and the sequence of events that only becomes plausible when you realize how the story ends (an ending that was surprisingly predictable). I don’t mean to be a weird internet person about this, I really like most books but this one was a frustrating read though i did finish it. Not for people who want to avoid torture narratives.