I loved „The Historican“ and I liked „The Swan Thieves“. So I was very excited when I saw Kostova’s new book. But I really struggled with this one.
The story idea is unique but also a bit unbelievable. Alexandra has just arrived in Sofia to teach Englisch there. Her cab driver misunderstood her and left her at the wrong hotel. She is still groggy from her long flight but when she sees some people in need of help to get into their cab she immediately helps them, happy to meet their first Bulgarians. After they are gone she takes a cab herself to go to her hotel. There she realized she kept one of the bags from this nice Bulgarian people. Inside is an urn. For some reasons she is determined to return this important thing by herself. Fortunately her cab driver is very keen to help her and drive her around half of Bulgaria to return the urn. Their journey brings them not only to modern Bulgaria but also to its dark history. Alexandra learns a lot about its history and even more about the person which ashes are inside the urn.
When I started this book I was pleased by its unique story. I liked Alexandra’s back story and the reason she came to Bulgaria. I also liked the way the author described the beauty of this country and made me almost wanting to visit it. But somehow nothing really happened. After 40% into this book nothing really had happened. They drove around. The description of the landscapes and what Alexandra saw while they drove became boring and long-winded. I began to skip most of the pages. There was just too fussy. There was very less storytelling and all of this lead to nowhere. I got bored and wanted to end the book. I even skipped the flashbacks from the labor camp. I suppose they were emotional and important but I only wanted to finish this book. At the end everything is solved in a rush.
The story is unique and interesting but is written much too detailed written. There are way too much details, it is too slow. Alexandra and her driver just drive for hours to just don’t really find anything or anybody. And so they go on driving. It was just boring. The story of the man which ash is in the urn is quite tragic but it got buried under lots of words which lead to story to nowhere. This book would have been better if it was shorter and more focused on the story.
I received a copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review