I recently finished reading this book and believe me - this story is intense. The tale spans three generations and a dozen locations. The narrative flows seamlessly between timelines and cities without losing the reader. The richness of the descriptive detail and the well crafted characters make it feel like you're there with them in Istanbul or Budapest or Oxford. Elizabeth Kostova has a real talent for creating fully developed and engaging settings. Now, I find myself full of longing for places I've never been and researching travel in my free time.
While it is a story about vampires, I hesitate to describe it in such terms. It is historical fiction, mystery, coming of age story, and love story intertwined with supernatural elements. It has a little bit of everything, so I think it'll appeal to most people.
At its heart, this books focuses on destiny, fear, and the struggle between good and evil. Each of the main characters faces a moment, essentially the same moment, which changes their lives. They are forced to acknowledge their destiny and set out to effect change, in spite of their mortal fear. Each one strives against the darkness in their own way, even when their own lives are at severe risk. Each and every one of them acts as a hero and I love that. (I'm a sucker for the good guys)
Due to the quick pacing and depth of detail, I suspect it'll hold up to repeat readings. It is wonderfully written with loads of historical references and it is full of suspense. I highly recommend this one!