Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
The Shadow Land
Cover of The Shadow Land
The Shadow Land
A Novel
From the #1 bestselling 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 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.
Advance praise for The Shadow Land
"In The Shadow Land, Elizabeth Kostova, a master storyteller, brings vividly to life an unfamiliar country—Bulgaria—and a painful history that feels particularly relevant now. You won't want to put down this remarkable book."—Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs
"In this brilliant work, what appears at first a minor mystery quickly becomes emblematic of a whole country's hidden history. Lyrical and compelling, The Shadow Land proves a profound meditation on how evil is inflicted, endured, and, through courage and compassion, defeated. Elizabeth Kostova's third novel clearly establishes her as one of America's finest writers."—Ron Rash, author of The Risen
"The Shadow Land is thrilling, and not just as a gripping tale. It's also thrilling to watch such a talented writer cast her spell. The central character actually begins this deft novel in an urn, only to emerge as one of the most memorable characters I've encountered in a long time."—Richard Russo, author of Everybody's Fool
"Transporting . . . draws us into Bulgarian history and character revelation like an elegant, mysterious labyrinth. Page-turning, evocative, and richly imagined."—Dominic Smith, author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
Praise for Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian
"Quite extraordinary . . . Kostova is a natural storyteller. . . . She has refashioned the vampire myth into a compelling contemporary novel, a late-night page-turner."—San Francisco Chronicle
"Hypnotic . . . a thrill ride through history."—The Denver Post
"Part thriller, part history, part romance . . . Kostova has a keen sense of storytelling and she has a marvelous story to tell."—Baltimore Sun
Praise for The Swan Thieves
"Exquisite."—The Boston Globe
"Engrossing."—O: The Oprah Magazine
"Stunning . . . A beautifully written tale of art, love and an obsession triggered by both."—Associated Press
From the #1 bestselling 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 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.
Advance praise for The Shadow Land
"In The Shadow Land, Elizabeth Kostova, a master storyteller, brings vividly to life an unfamiliar country—Bulgaria—and a painful history that feels particularly relevant now. You won't want to put down this remarkable book."—Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs
"In this brilliant work, what appears at first a minor mystery quickly becomes emblematic of a whole country's hidden history. Lyrical and compelling, The Shadow Land proves a profound meditation on how evil is inflicted, endured, and, through courage and compassion, defeated. Elizabeth Kostova's third novel clearly establishes her as one of America's finest writers."—Ron Rash, author of The Risen
"The Shadow Land is thrilling, and not just as a gripping tale. It's also thrilling to watch such a talented writer cast her spell. The central character actually begins this deft novel in an urn, only to emerge as one of the most memorable characters I've encountered in a long time."—Richard Russo, author of Everybody's Fool
"Transporting . . . draws us into Bulgarian history and character revelation like an elegant, mysterious labyrinth. Page-turning, evocative, and richly imagined."—Dominic Smith, author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
Praise for Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian
"Quite extraordinary . . . Kostova is a natural storyteller. . . . She has refashioned the vampire myth into a compelling contemporary novel, a late-night page-turner."—San Francisco Chronicle
"Hypnotic . . . a thrill ride through history."—The Denver Post
"Part thriller, part history, part romance . . . Kostova has a keen sense of storytelling and she has a marvelous story to tell."—Baltimore Sun
Praise for The Swan Thieves
"Exquisite."—The Boston Globe
"Engrossing."—O: The Oprah Magazine
"Stunning . . . A beautifully written tale of art, love and an obsession triggered by both."—Associated Press
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book One

    Sofia, the year 2008. The month of May, impeccable spring weather, and the goddess Capitalism sitting on her long-­since-­tawdry throne. On the top step outside Hotel Forest hovered a young woman, more a girl than a woman, and more a foreigner—­which she also was—­than anything else. The hotel looked out over NDK, the former communist regime's palace of culture, a giant concrete blossom now patrolled by teenagers; sunlight falling across the plaza glinted off their spiky heads. Alexandra Boyd, exhausted from an endless plane ride, stood watching the Bulgarian kids on their skateboards and trying to tuck her long straight hair behind one ear. To her right rose apartment buildings of ochre and gray stucco, as well as more recent glass-­and-­steel construction and a billboard that showed a woman in a bikini whose breasts surged out toward a bottle of vodka. Stately trees bloomed near the billboard, white and magenta—­horse chestnuts, which Alexandra had seen during a trip to France in college, her only other time on the European continent. Her eyes were gritty, her scalp grimed with the sweat of travel. She needed to eat, shower, sleep—­yes, sleep, after the final flight from Amsterdam, that jerking awake every few minutes into self-­exile across an ocean. She glanced down at her feet to make sure they were still there. Except for a pair of bright red sneakers, her clothes were simple—­thin blouse, blue jeans, a sweater tied around her waist—­so that she felt dowdy next to the tailored skirts and stilettos that made their way past her. On her left wrist, she wore a wide black bracelet; in her ears, spears of obsidian. She gripped the handles of a rolling suitcase and a dark satchel containing a guidebook, a dictionary, extra clothes. Over her shoulder she carried a computer bag and her loose multicolored purse with a notebook and a paperback of Emily Dickinson at the very bottom.

    From her plane window, Alexandra had seen a city cradled in mountains and flanked by towering apartment buildings like tombstones. Stepping off the plane with her new camera in her hand, she'd breathed unfamiliar air—­coal and diesel and then a gust that smelled of plowed earth. She had walked across the tarmac and onto the airport bus, observed shiny new customs booths and their taciturn officials, the exotic stamp in her passport. Her taxi had looped around the edges of Sofia and into the heart of the city—­a longer route than necessary, she now suspected—­brushing past outdoor café tables and lampposts that bore political placards or signs for sex shops. From the taxi window, she'd photographed ancient Fords and Opels, new Audis with tinted gangster windows, large slow buses, and trolleys like clanking Megalosauruses that threw sparks from their iron rails. To her amazement, she'd seen that the center of the city was paved with yellow cobblestones.

    But the driver had somehow misunderstood her request and dropped her here, at Hotel Forest, not at the hostel she'd booked weeks earlier. Alexandra hadn't understood the situation, either, until he was gone and she had mounted the steps of the hotel to get a closer look. Now she was alone, more thoroughly than she had ever been in her twenty-­six years. In the middle of the city, in the middle of a history about which she had no real idea, among people who went purposefully up and down the steps of the hotel, she stood wondering whether to descend and try to get another taxi. She doubted she could afford the glass and cement monolith that loomed at her back, with its tinted windows, its crow-­like clients in...
About the Author-
  • Elizabeth Kostova is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Swan Thieves and The Historian. She graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award for Novel-in-Progress. She is also co-founder of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation for Creative Writing in Bulgaria.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 27, 2017
    A compelling and complex mystery, strong storytelling, and lyrical writing combine for an engrossing read set in the former Soviet-bloc nation of Bulgaria. Not long after Alexandra Boyd’s 2008 arrival in Sofia to teach English, she ends up with the wrong suitcase, which holds the remains of one Stoyan Lazarov in a carved box. She is determined to return it to the elderly couple traveling with their son, a handsome man who eventually haunts her dreams. Helping her on this quest is Asparuh Iliev, aka Bobby, an inscrutable taxi driver who believes in his nation’s beauty but fears for its future under the possible leadership of a powerful and wealthy politician whose anticorruption campaign is gaining political traction. They learn Lazarov was a talented violinist who faced political oppression. A parallel story line tells of Lazarov’s life. His attempt to become a concertmaster by currying favor with his orchestra’s Communist conductor has tragic consequences, setting up Kostova’s (The Historian) most emotional and harrowing moments.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2017
    Searching for the owners of a mysterious urn that's fallen into her possession, a young American traveler takes a weeklong drive through Bulgaria guided by an enigmatic cabdriver in Kostova's (The Swan Thieves, 2010, etc.) exploration of the price paid for love and art to survive under a brutal political regime.It's 2008. Alexandra Boyd, 26, has just arrived in Bulgaria from the Blue Ridge Mountains to teach English, and her cabdriver has accidentally dropped her off at an expensive hotel instead of the hostel where she's booked. Before finding another taxi for herself, she helps an elderly couple and the handsome middle-aged man accompanying them into their own cab, only to realize minutes later that she's taken one of their satchels. Inside she finds an urn containing the ashes of a man named Stoyan Lazarov, according to the label. Her English-speaking cabdriver, Bobby, reluctantly agrees to take her to the police station, where the officer in charge makes a call, then gives her an address where she might find the dead man's family. Alexandra and Bobby--who gradually reveals that he's gay and has an impressive resume as, among other things, a poet and political activist--set off to track down Lazarov's relatives. As they travel from lead to lead, they learn his history in connected narratives that carry the novel back to World War II and the Cold War era, when Lazarov's career as a violinist was destroyed after he spent time in an inhumane prison camp. A mood of threat takes over when Alexandra and Bobby realize they are being tracked by someone who doesn't want inconvenient truths exposed. While picaresque hero Bobby steals the readers' hearts, the romance Kostova drums up for Alexandra elsewhere and the back story of her guilt over a dead brother feel shoehorned into the novel, pallid in comparison to the drama of Bulgarian politics over the last 70 years. Kostova's passion and tragic sense of history, along with jewellike character studies, almost make up for the overplotting and repetitiveness as she drums her points home.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    November 15, 2016
    This third novel from the author of the New York Times best-selling The Historian finds a young American woman in Sofia, Bulgaria, helping a family into a taxi and realizing too late that she has kept one of their bags. The bag contains an ash-filled urn labeled Stoyan Lazarov, which leads our heroine to a particularly dark moment in Bulgarian history. With an eight-city tour.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2017

    Alexandra, 26, is headed to her new job teaching English in Bulgaria when, exhausted from hours of traveling and confused at having been dropped off at the wrong hotel, she reaches out to help an elderly woman get into a cab. As the car pulls away, Alexandra hails a taxi to take her to her hostel but discovers that she has accidentally picked up the old woman's satchel, which contains a beautiful box labeled with the name Stoyan Lazarov and filled with ashes. This is the story of her hunt to track down Stoyan Lazarov's family and return his remains to them. After checking in with the local police, Alexandra and her cab driver, Bobby, set off to locate the urn's owner. Following a slim trail of clues, they learn that the Communist takeover of Bulgaria came with an iron fist that enslaved thousands of suspected resistors, including the gentle Stoyan Lazarov. The more clues they uncover, the more the past catches up with them, until they, too, become a part of the mystery and find themselves in grave danger. This novel brings a horrific period of history to life, encapsulated in a mystery and stoked by Alexandra's determination to return Stoyan Lazarov to his family regardless of the danger. Interweaving tales juxtapose the past with the present as the mystery unfolds. VERDICT Those who enjoy a deep dive into the complicated lives of people both historical and contemporary will love this book.-Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Random House Publishing Group
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 5 titles every 7 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
The Shadow Land
The Shadow Land
A Novel
Elizabeth Kostova
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel