Monday, 3 February 2014

House Bathory

by Linda Lafferty
Lake Union Publishing (January 14, 2014)
486 pages - 9.95 $

I chose this book on NetGalley, because it's about the famous Countess Bathory whom I had just discovered the crazy story in a book by Sire Cédric Of fever and blood. I told myself that this was an opportunity to mix two things I enjoy: suspense and history. Thank you Lake Union Publishing for the book!

The blurb

In the early 1600s, Elizabeth Báthory, the infamous Blood Countess, ruled Čachtice Castle in the hinterlands of Slovakia. During bizarre nightly rites, she tortured and killed the young women she had taken on as servants. A devil, a demon, the terror of Royal Hungary—she bathed in their blood to preserve her own youth.

400 years later, echoes of the Countess’s legendary brutality reach Aspen, Colorado. Betsy Path, a psychoanalyst of uncommon intuition, has a breakthrough with sullen teenager Daisy Hart. Together, they are haunted by the past, as they struggle to understand its imprint upon the present. Betsy and her troubled but perceptive patient learn the truth: the curse of the House of Bathory lives still and has the power to do evil even now.

The story, brimming with palace intrigue, memorable characters intimately realized, and a wealth of evocative detail, travels back and forth between the familiar, modern world and a seventeenth-century Eastern Europe brought startlingly to life.

Inspired by the actual crimes of Elizabeth Báthory, The House of Bathory is another thrilling historical fiction from Linda Lafferty (The Bloodletter’s Daughter and The Drowning Guard). The novel carries readers along with suspense and the sweep of historical events both repellent and fascinating.

What I think of it

The story seemed promising and in a sense it keeps its promises. It actually has a wealth of details and travels back and forth. The historical details are so well written and the characters so realistic that I felt like I was living in the seventeenth century. According to some research I've done, the details about the Countess appear to be real, something I like in a book of historical flavor. Countess Bathory is a true horror story in herself. I don't know if the facts are true or if they are the result of rumors at the time, but it's an incredible story, rich and very fascinating for horror fans!

I was less affected and moved by  the characters in today's times, unlike those of the Bathory time. This may be because of the short chapters that move from one period to another and from one character to another . The change of point of view is a difficult exercise and its disadvantage is that it can lead the reader to not create a link with one or more characters, which was my case for this book. The other concern is towards the end, a little fast (which is a shame given the time it took to reach a confrontation !) and that gives us an explanation a little too easy in my sense.

I admit I read with pleasure 80% of the book, then I droped it for Phoenix Island that I devoured in two days, which is not a good sign. The end of the book seemed to drag on and I skimed through some paragraphs. I was anxious for the story to end and that's a shame. Sometimes I like a book to last because the atmosphere, the characters or the context is so rich that it is a pleasure to hang out in the world of the author. But not this time. As I was not particularly attached to the characters in the present time, which was less well written and less rich than the past, I did not particularly want to stay longer than expected there.

In a nutshell

I liked the historical part of the book and I feared for the characters of the time, unlike the present part of the book that dragged towards the end. A good book to learn about the Countess Bathory, but perhaps a little too long. This is a 3.5 / 5 .

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