Debut author Kostova recreates the Dracula legend into an engrossing mystery. Late one night, 16-year-old Elizabeth is prowling through her father's library, searching for clues to her parents' pasts, when she finds yellowed letters addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor." The letters send her on a journey from England to Hungary and the Middle East, and into the secret world of Dracula.
Elizabeth questions her father about the letters. He explains that he inherited them from a professor who thought Dracula was still alive, and that centuries of historians have tried to find the link between medieval invader Vlad the Impaler and Dracula.
Elizabeth begins her own hunt and becomes as obsessed as those before her. Eventually she faces the gruesome truth in a heart-stopping showdown. Ten years in the making, this novel is a masterpiece: a brilliantly plotted, captivating, unputdownable read with a protagonist to adore who is a detective like those in The Da Vinci Code and The Rule of Four. Vampire and mystery readers will sing Kostova's praises. (Jul., 642 pp., $25.95)