The Historian tells the history of Vlad Tepes (aka Count Dracula) and the modern story of Paul, a professor, and his sixteen year old daughter (who is unnamed) on their quest to find Vlad's tomb.
In Part 1, the narrator discovers a book about Dracula and asks her father, Paul about it. Paul tells her how he originally found it by accident in the 1950s and discovered that his mentor, Professor Bartholomew Rossi, had found one mysteriously in his youth as well. Rossi went on to investigate the Dracula myth and the book, traveling as far as Istanbul for answers before strange events lead him to drop his investigation. Rossi passes on his research to Paul, with the advice that he believes Dracula still lives.
Afterwards, Rossi mysteriously disappears and along with the professor's daughter Helen, Paul begins to investigate. After hearing this story, the narrator is drawn into the mystery and begins investigating with her father as they travel through Europe in the 1970s. Paul later sends her home, but when she discovers he is actually on a journey to find her long-lost mother, she follows him. It is later made known that Helen Rossi was her mother.
In Part 2, the narrator reads about her father and Helen's travels through Eastern Europe. The two had assumed Bartholomew Rossi might have been taken by Dracula to his tomb. They travel to Istanbul in search of information on the tomb and there meet Professor Turgut Bora, who also has found a copy of the mysterious book. They are also followed by a librarian who had attacked Helen back in the US and whom they believed died. Helen shoots him, but he still does not die.
From Istanbul, they travelers go to Hungary to find more information and meet with Helen's mother. There they learn that Helen's mother, and Helen herself, are descendants of Vlad Tepes.
In Part 3, Turgut Bora discovers new information which leads them to Bulgaria. He reveals that he is part of an organization dedicated to fighting the Order of the Dragon, which is associated with Dracula. Helen and Paul meet with a scholar named Anton Stoichev and learn that the tomb is most likely at a Bulgarian monastery called Sveti Georgi. They eventually find the tomb and discover Bartholomew Rossi's body there. He tells them that Dracula is a scholar that owns a secret library where Rossi has hidden an account of his kidnapping and imprisonment. They stab him through the heart with a silver dagger to prevent him from becoming a vampire. Helen and Paul are pursued by political officials and the vampire librarian, but escape them. They move to the US, get married, and Helen gives birth to the narrator. Suffering from a depression, Helen reveals her fear that the vampire bite she received would affect their child. On a trip to Europe meant to cheer her up, Helen senses Dracula and is compelled to leap from a cliff. She survives the fall and thereafter becomes dedicated to hunting him down.
The narrator arrives at a French monastery and finds her father there. Individuals from all of the timelines converge in an attempt to finally defeat Dracula. Helen shoots him through the heart with a silver bullet, and they all believe he has at last been killed.
In the epilogue, it is now 2008, and the narrator is attending a conference in Philadelphia when she finds a library that contains an extensive amount of information about Dracula. She forgets her notes as she leaves, and when they are returned to her by an attendant, she discovers a copy of the mysterious book that had started the whole journey.