Kostova's debut novel is a thing of much amusement in my house. I adored that book, a classic case of "right book, right moment". I gave it to someone to read and he declared, "This is just a book about a bunch of people doing research in libraries."
"No no, I said. It gets really good."
So he persists. To the climax. In which (massive spoiler alert) the villian (a vampire) captures the heroes and traps them so they will WORK IN HIS LIBRARY.
Kostova's third book is exactly a mashup of any Dan Brown novel with Us, Conductors.
If you want to read US, Conductors but are daunted by the Serious-Canadian-Literature of it, or you want to read Dan Brown but are totally embarrassed by the Thrilling-Puzzle-ruined-by-the-Worst-Writing-Ever of it, then this is absolutely 100% the book for you.
I was surprised by the Communist work camp storyline. After having delved so deeply into other Communist-themed novels in the last 4 months, I just didn't see this one coming. Definitely more politics in this book than the plot synopsis suggests ...
I was thrilled to read a book about Bulgaria. (Maps were definitely consulted in the reading of this book, and with some relief one of the characters near the end says "no one is really sure where this place is today.") While I am sure Bulgarians probably want to be known for more than historical work camp atrocities, at the very least I was introduced to the geography and political history of a new (to me) country.
Also, part of this book conjured up Cloak and Dagger from my childhood. I won't give away the ending, but there is a moment when it is entirely possible that the old people aren't so nice after all.