I loved The Shadow Land. I think it might be one of my favourite books this year. I won an ARC of Elizabeth Kostova's latest novel from Goodreads, and I am so glad I did. Everything about the story drew me in. The misplaced ashes, of course, were a unique way to begin the story. Alexandra's determination was special. She was an amazing person. She was emotional, and had purpose. I loved how she felt about Bobby, about Neven, Stoyan, Jack, her parents. The trauma and guilt of Alexandra's childhood shaped her life, her goals, and led her to this place. Bulgaria. A country I do not know much about, but now I'd like to learn more. The Bulgarian perspective is not one I've read when it comes to World War II and what happened after the war. It was hard, scary and sad. People blaming other people, being punished for not doing anything wrong, or not agreeing with the new government. It seems like it was difficult to just live life. Alexandra learns about this country, about where she has decided to live for no greater reason than the memory of her brother.
As beautiful as the writing is and as interesting as the country is, it's the plot that moves the story forward. The urn and the mystery that unravels is unique and unexpected. Alexandra is just trying to return someone's precious property and she gets sucked into this incredible tale, along with an unsuspecting taxi driver, who has secrets of his own. I really enjoyed the duality of the plot, Alexandra's story, moving along with Stoyan's. Stoyan's story was simple, but extremely emotional, Alexandra's story was also emotional, but more complex.
I love a good ending and the end of The Shadow Land was wonderful. I loved how the stories met, how they came full circle. I loved the discoveries, the drama, the unexpected. The tension was fantastic, I was scared for Irina and Lenka. I really enjoyed the quieter chapters after the climax. I like that we got a hint as to what the future might hold for the main characters. I loved the friendships that developed through this story, across generations.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Shadow Land, loving it more than I thought I would. It was brilliant and beautiful. It captured the imagination. It didn't let me go until the end.