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The Shadow Land Audiobook

The Shadow Land: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of The Historian comes an engrossing novel that spans the past and the present - and unearths the dark secrets of Bulgaria, a beautiful and 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 oppression - and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

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.

©2017 Elizabeth Kostova (P)2017 Random House Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    Mel USA 04-23-17
    Mel USA 04-23-17 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mysterious and Beautiful"


    As she did with her novel The Historian, Kostova once again takes her readers deep into the landscapes of her own youth. The Shadow Land is a tale that begins in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, and unfurls through a perilous journey over the steep roads that wind up into the mountain villages. Kostova brings to life the dichotomy of a country that has one foot in its melancholy history and the other struggling to pull itself into a prosperous future. The views are rich and evocative, the thick dark forests, sharp overhangs of mountains, ancient monasteries, and cemeteries -- Kostova's portrayal of Bulgaria captures your imagination. But that is once you get into the story...

    The writing is stunning and I found myself slowing down the audio speed just to linger over the sentences, the scenery, and the characters. All of those aspects are wonderful, masterfully done. Kostova's love of this country, her knowledge of its history, are evident. My own knowledge of Bulgaria's political background sharpened after reading the history that she weaves into the book. There are different stories, generations of players; fascinating characters that seem not of this time, imbued with a strength and depth of character that has been honed into them. They cling to their friends and neighbors through the years and over the miles, hanging onto their past like it is a secretly shared thread that binds them together, that keeps them alive.

    I won't review the plot as it involves characters from a long ago past that have shaped the future, but want to express how richly this story expands, and how beautifully. The time spent in the forced labor camps recalls the outrage and cruelty we know from another period in history. The section that talks about the music of Vivaldi, the violin, the creative period of time when composers wrote so magically is outstanding. Even without the soundtrack, this music speaks that language beyond a language. It is a museum, an orchestra, a masterpiece, a history lesson in these sections. It is also a warning on the delicate nature of politics, the power of money and ambition.

    However, the story initially moves very slowly, threatening to shake your interest. There are also some coincidences that are hard to accept smoothly. It becomes a cross-country game of unending tag that has to support a whole story. Lots of time in a cab, lots of salami breakfasts, lots of subversive politics. I'll admit it...after The Historian and the copious mentions of wolves, I was hoping this would take a turn toward The Historian and give me a classy werewolf surprise, something like Dracula in The Historian. But this deals with another kind of monster. I liked this, sometimes loved it; but, for all of its magnificence, it wasn't quite a 5* listen for me. Better than Swan Thieves -- not as good as The Historian.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric 06-24-17
    Eric 06-24-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Hard to like"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. I was thrilled to be in Bulgaria but the goose chases and the explanations for them were ridiculous. I like Kostova and speaking in some of the voices the narrator was wonderful. But the old ladies were impossible to listen to and the main character was absolutely unlikable--more Kostova's fault than Kreinik's. I actually felt jerked around, a sucker for listening so long.


    Did Barrie Kreinik do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    I think Kreinik did a great job. However, the voices chosen for the old ladies were so shrill and cackling. I had to read those parts.


    Could you see The Shadow Land being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    I wouldn't watch it.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John W. Ramsey 06-17-17
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    "My favorite ever!"

    I listen to audio books while exercising, walking my dog and driving. This one kept me riveted the whole time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Olney, IL, United States 06-03-17
    Teresa Olney, IL, United States 06-03-17
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    "Another great listen"

    The book moves back and forth from present day to yesteryear. I loved reading about the characters early years. The descriptions were vivid, truly making me see in my minds eyethe people and landscapes as they must have been during the wartime period.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Silvia Oakland, CA, USA 05-28-17
    Silvia Oakland, CA, USA 05-28-17 Member Since 2006
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    "Interminable"

    I ultimately increased the narration speed to get to the end of an exceedingly long tale. The story suffered from unnecessary details that interfered with the core story of the arrested musician. The female protagonist failed to come alive under the usually capable hand of the author. Had it not been for the quality of Barrie Kreinik's talented narration, I would have happily returned the book before completion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine 04-18-17
    Catherine 04-18-17
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    "Riveting and Important"

    Kostova's new book follows the excellent formula used in her previous two books. A contemporary mystery leads the protagonists to explore layered mysteries from the past. Shadow Land evokes the gravity of such books as 'All the Light We Cannot See' and 'The Nightingale.' But the historical setting for these complex and terrible events is simultaneously more exotic than the Western Europe of WWII and more shockingly near to us in our times.

    The characters here are intricately drawn and the various plots unfold deliciously slowly in language that enchants. Interwoven are stories and folk tales of Bulgaria that illuminate its history and its people. The narrators are particularly well chosen to make the most of all the elements of this work.

    Shadow Land is not light reading. It is, however, thoroughly engaging and entertaining. It is contemporary literature at its finest.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lizzystick United States 05-12-17
    Lizzystick United States 05-12-17 Member Since 2006
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    ""Alexandria said stupidly..." sums up part of it"

    There is a story within the story that had potential but the main modern character (Alexandria) is whiny, stupid and annoying. I actually was hoping that she would get into a dangerous situation and die so we could focus on the other story, but no such luck. I think this book was full of potential in many directions but never fully went in any of them. Half of the book could have been omitted (the entire boring Alexandria part) and nothing at all would have been lost. The story of the violinist , his family and his time in the work camp could have been the books focus and then maybe an interesting story would have emerged. Im disappointed because I did love the Historian by the same author. The narrator was good with most of the parts but I think her whiny tone for Alexandria added to my deep dislike of the character.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annie 07-20-17
    Annie 07-20-17
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    "Starts slow strong finish"

    I enjoyed the literary nature of this story but felt it started too slowly. There were also a number of plot points that required suspension of disbelief. The narrator did a fine job except with the protagonist. Overall though, I enjoyed the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lindsey leigh 07-01-17 Member Since 2013
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    "Bulgaria"

    I love when there are a multiple readers. I enjoyed this book and learning about an unfamiliar country. Highly recommend!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica H. Raefsky United States 05-13-17
    Jessica H. Raefsky United States 05-13-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Good story made better by a fabulous narrator"
    What did you love best about The Shadow Land?

    Barrie Kreinik was amazing! I actually thought there were multiple readers.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Shadow Land?

    The descriptions of the labor were hard to hear, but I could feel the cold and despair


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I like the scene when we are introduced to Irene and Lenka<br/>


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I needed a little break after the scenes in the work camp


    Any additional comments?

    None

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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