The Shadow Land

Elizabeth Book Reviews, Contemporary Fiction Leave a Comment

Title: The Shadow Land: A Novel

Author: Elizabeth Kostova

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Copyright: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0345527875


Format: E-Book, 497 Pages

Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Price: $13.50 [Amazon Paperback], $18.26 [Amazon Hardcover],  $13.99 [Kindle], $26.95 [Audible], $19.12 [Barnes & Noble Hardcover], $30.05 [Barnes & Noble Audiobook], $13.99 [Nook], $13.99 [Google Play], $13.99 [iBooks]


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.


I’ve never actually read an Elizabeth Kostova book before, so this was a first for me. I am sad to say that I didn’t enjoy The Shadow Land at all.

Alexandra Boyd is a young woman who visits Bulgaria in the year 2008. Still haunted by the thoughts of her brother, Alexandra reminisces about him and their childhood and adolescence continually. On her first day in Bulgaria, something strange happens to her. While at a hotel, she spots a handsome and charismatic tall young man who is accompanied by an elderly couple. When the elderly woman takes a stumble while climbing into a taxi, Alexandra reaches out to assist the woman. Eventually, the trio drive off and mistakenly leave behind a bag. In that moment, Alexandra, becomes involved in a mystery surrounding an urn full of ashes and she teams up with a taxi driver to find the trio.

The Shadow Land is more of a travelogue with descriptions of Bulgaria than anything else. While it had such beautiful, rhapsodic prose, it had very little of real substance to really entice me as the reader. Moreover, it entirely lacked a much-needed plot and the pacing was otherwise painfully slow. If it had a faster pace and more of a climax, I would have given this book a higher rating but it was sadly underwhelming.

All throughout the story, I failed to develop an emotional connection with any of the characters who I found to be one-dimensional. The general tone and atmosphere is thoughtful with a hint of mystery. In conclusion I would like to say that I really wanted to like this book. It was the book cover and the description that really captured my attention initially.

I graciously received a copy of The Shadow Land: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova” from Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.


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