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.
The daughter of a naval commander, Linda Lafferty attended fourteen different schools growing up, ultimately graduating from the University of Colorado with a master's degree and a PhD in education. Her peripatetic childhood nourished a lifelong love of travel, and she studied abroad in England, France, Mexico, and Spain. Her uncle introduced her to the sport of polo when she was just ten years old, and she enjoys playing to this day. She also competed on the Lancaster University Riding Team in England in stadium jumping, cross country, and dressage. A veteran school educator, she is the author of The Bloodletter's Daughter and The Drowning Guard. She lives in Colorado.
Actual rating 3.5 stars. I'm rounding up (see review below to understand why I chose to).
I spent most of the book oscillating between:
It was GLORIOUS!!!!
The ending just made me:
This is going to be a very difficult review for me to write, so please bare with me.
From page one, Miss Lafferty sucked me in!! I LOVED how she went back and forth from the year 1610 to 2010. I was totally into the characters from both time periods and could NOT wait to see where the story went. I was so intrigued to find out how each of the time periods would intertwine and what the meaning of it all was. There were some seriously dark, evil, and downright dreadful characters in this book. Elizabeth Bathory was a disgusting waste of human flesh (both in this book and as a real person)!!!
As we do with any book we are reading, we start to draw conclusions and think where the story is going. This book was no exception. Based on the words the author flowed across the page, I started to think the book was turning me towards the right. The last, oh maybe 40 or 50 pages, made me make a hard turn left. I felt lost. I was confused. Where is she taking me? She'll turn back to the right at some point. Won't she?? Wait…she's continuing left. WTF….TURN RIGHT!!!! TURN RIGHT!!!!!!! Then…it ended.
I spent this entire book loving it, and it ended so far from where she spent 400 pages taking me. I am a little bitter. Ok, I admit that. I thought this entire time I would rate this book five stars. I may turn back and revise my rating when the burn ebbs off. But right now, I'm stinging from what she did to me.
This was by NO MEANS a bad book. I still stand firm that it was a very good book, and one of the better writing styles I've encountered in some time. Lafferty is magical with the way she writes. She absolutely just pulls the reader into the story and makes you feel like you are a part of the world. I see a theme in myself: When a book is taking me down one path for the entire book and suddenly changes at the end, I tend to rate that book lower. I did the same with Night Film. I know that wasn't the only book I've done that to. So, please, don't let my review deter you from reading this, especially if you've been wanting to. I'll wake up tomorrow, the bitterness will be gone, the confusion of being turned left when I thought we were going right will have lifted, and I'll be able to look at this book and say, Yes, you were wonderful! Thank you for the time we spent together!
I had to close the book by the 2nd chapter when the Countess, admiring her image in her mirror, asked her handmaiden if she thought she was the most beautiful woman. The pox faced handmaiden replied that she was, in all of Christendom and the Oriental kingdom, or some nonsense like that. Any further, I think Snow White might pop out.
Known as the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Báthory is one of history's most prolific serial killers. Formally charged for only eighty deaths, evidence, supposedly written in her own hand, suggests more than six hundred women fell victim to her sadistic obsession.
The legend surrounding Elizabeth serves as the foundation of Linda Lafferty's House of Bathory, but much like Holly Luhning's Quiver, the book itself is a modern day mystery with supporting historic content.
To her credit, Lafferty spends a lot time in seventeenth century Hungary, exploring Elizabeth's world through Zuzana and Janos. This approach allowed Lafferty to examine the period in a way I'd not seen before, but I can't deny feeling cheated as it prevented her from really digging into the countess' character.
The modern story didn't really appeal to me. Betsy, Daisy, Grace, etc. didn't feel as authentic as the historical cast and the situational drama, particularly towards the end of the narrative, was simply too hard to swallow. I understood what Lafferty was getting at, synchronicity and all, but I don't particularly care for the theory and as such, found little to appreciate in the ultimate resolution.
Now I know what you're thinking. Sychcro what? I'd not heard of it either, but as it is so essential to the story, I took it upon myself to do a little research on Carl Jung, his psychological study of dream analysis and the concept of synchronicity. I won’t bore you with the details, but understand a fundamental comprehension of these subjects is vital to interpreting the underlying themes of the Lafferty's work.
I can't stress this enough folks. Eight of twelve titles in the bibliography are entirely irrelevant to Báthory and in the acknowledgments section, Lafferty actually states "Carl Jung’s psychoanalytic methods and The Red Book were a springboard for this novel. Jung’s perspective on mental illness, psychology, and synchronicity helped me to look for interconnections among characters, past and present."
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. House of Bathory is a tale of incestual and sadistic horror, framed by a modern story that mirrors the twisted history until the two are so intertwined it’s impossible to tell where one stops and the other begins. The history in this novel is extensive, sometimes a little overwhelming, but being a history buff, I appreciated the research and detail in the scenes depicting the seventeenth century world of Eastern Europe and the court of Elizabeth Bathory. Lafferty does a great job of interlocking the past and present events, showing how the past leaks its way into our own lives and seeming to support the Jungian discourse of the wheel of life. This was one of those stories I couldn’t forget. I found myself wondering what the characters were doing—a sign of good novel. However, with twelve plus POVs and 486 pages, this one isn’t for a light, weekend read. With all of that omniscience, I felt I needed a guidebook at times to keep track of the plot. There were a few episodes which needed more explanation, like a seeming past-life episode that Daisy experiences, and the storyline with Daisy’s father wasn’t foreshadowed enough to create believability. I also wondered about the age range for this one. I first selected an ARC because I thought it fell into the YA historical genre, but while Daisy’s story carries a portion of the plot, it is relatively small, and the language and suggestive content makes it mature. 4 stars
I dragged through this. This book took over a week to read which is insanely long for me. How can someone turn one of the most fascinating, macabre, mysterious, psychotic woman in the world and turn her in a bore? Read this book and you'll find out how.
Normally, I like different perspectives in a book but this was rough and choppy. Just as I was starting to become invested in a storyline it shifted to someone elses. There was really no connection and it hinted towards some paranormal, just enough to make parts of the story work for the author. I hate when a writer uses convenient magic or paranormal to make a story work for them.
What very little there was of a storyline didn't connect or flow. Daisy Hart was the only relatively non two-dimensional character in the book. There was no character development at all and the author didn't go much into a Taltos, which she mentions a few times. You're pulled through the book only because she has so much foreshadowing that you just want to know what the heck the author is talking about. There's really no explanation in the end - just two psychos in two different time periods.
The only thing I appreciated was the historical reference and the depiction of location and time. I really got a feel for Bathory's Castle. I almost wanted to give this book a 2 star just for that -but it wasn't enough. The story failed in so many ways. Even the wikipedia explanation of Elizabeth Bathory is interesting - how this story failed at her story is just baffling.
House of Bathory was absolutely an amazing read. I flew through it in no time because my eyes were glued to the screen of my Kindle. It was that good! I didn't know what I expected starting it but it turned out even better than I had hoped.
I've always been intrigued by the story of Elizabeth Bathory. I love history and I've seen documentaries and movies about her so I was pretty excited to read this book. I'm so glad I got accepted for it via NetGalley.
This book is my first Linda Lafferty book and I'm so excited to have found a new historical fiction author that I can see myself wanting to read all the books from. Her writing was compelling, never got boring and it was fast-paced. Also it didn't shy away from the horror that Countess Bathory inflicted on so many innocent people.
The story also was just amazing and dark. And very exciting, not knowing what was going to happen next or if my favorite characters would survive... I loved how it jumped from the 1600's to 2010 and how everything fit together. I just love books like that. There were a lot of POVs that may be a little distracting to some. Even I must admit that at first I had to get used to it but I soon got used to it and now I think it was perfectly done that way.
Another thing I loved was how Carl Jung was a big part of this book. In the last year I've come to be a little intrigued also by Jungian psychology. Coincidence. Or not?
Overall, House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty was a fantastic read. I loved the writing and how the author could suck me right into the story, especially the 1600's chapters. It was like I was there. So amazing!
It had such great potential but the author didn't make it work. I expected the countess to be cruel and wicked, which she was, but she was not as wicked or as chilling or horrifying as I expected a serial killer to be. I'm disappointed at her bland portrayal.
Daisy was sweet and all but she was so reckless, stupid, whimsical and GOTHIC. She put herself in stupid situation which could have easily gotten her raped or murdered in real life. But of course, since this is fiction, nothing happens to our sweet character.
The words goth and Jung were so overused in this novel that my eye would twitch every time I read it. I really don't understand Daisy's obsession with the goth world. It is so ANNOYING. Everything needs to be gothic for her. And no one looks at a person and sa1ys, "Oh, hi. You're goth."
Betsy was boring, John was bleh and I can't seem to recall the names of the other characters. I liked Betsy's mom though, she was sassy and full of class.
The ending was stupid. All the strings weren't properly tied at the end and I didn't get ANY feeling of closure or satisfaction after I finished this book.
Overall, I'm not highly disappointed as I hadn't expected much from this book because of all the low ratings. I don't know what I was expecting from this book, more information on the countess, I guess but this book failed to tell me what I didn't already know through wiki.
This book wasn't at all what I expected. I thought I was reading a historical fiction book about Elizabeth Bathory. Although her story features in the pages, the main focus is on Betsy Path, a psychologist, her mother, Grace Path, a doctor, and Betsy's patient, Daisy Hart.
I don't usually like time-slip novels but I actually did enjoy this one. My main problem was that we never get to get our teeth into the Countess or the other historical figures. We never really get to know them or any real details about the events that passed during that terrible period of time. The author teases the reader with short chapters throughout the whole book.
The book is actually more of a mystery than a historical novel. I'd say the main theme is actually psychology, the work of a man called Carl Jung and his book, The Red Book.
It is definitely worth a read if you're interested in any of the topics, (Bathory, psychology, mystery and also quite a strong goth theme) but I can't say how accurate the historical detail is as this is a period of history that I've never before read about. However, it's piqued my interest and I will most definitely be seeking out further information on Elizabeth Bathory and the crimes she committed.
This author had been recommended to me so when I saw this book pop up on Netgalley. I asked to review it.
I finished this book 3 days ago and I am still trying to figure out what in the hell I just read. This book was pure silliness. Elizabeth Bathory is a fascinating person in history. She is even more fascinating now that there are theories that she might have been set up so that the King could seize her property and not pay back a debt that he had made with her husband. With all of that...this is the silliness that comes out of the book?
I have decided that I would like the 5 hours that it took for me to read this book back. I have also decided that I need to take another look at my reviewing guidelines.
A Wonderful, Fascinating Read. When I came across House of Bathory I was intrigued. I learned from Wikipedia that the Countess of Bathory was infamous--“…the most prolific female serial killer in history”-- but I had never heard of her. After reading about who she was, and when and where she lived, I had to read this book. I was not disappointed. Two stories are told: the fascinating historical story in Cachtice Castle in 1610 leading up to the Countess’s arrest; and the second story, just as fascinating, that begins in 2010 Colorado. Together, these two stories are expertly told, and House of Bathory becomes quite an exciting, ‘unputdownable’ reading experience. Linda Lafferty’s vivid characters greatly contributed. I found some brave, plucky, intuitive, resourceful, while others were depraved, deranged, despicable—all quite hard to forget. At the beginning, there is a quote from C.G. Jung: “…Am I a combination of the lives of these ancestors and do I embody these lives again?” As House of Bathory unfolded, I found myself returning to this quote again and again.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Alice Roosevelt Longworth is credited for having said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit by me." Ms Longworth couldn't possibly have read The House Of Bathory by Linda Lafferty, but had she been able to read it, Alice and I could have had a great time saying not nice things together. This wasn't a very good book, and it should have been.
The subject of the story is a fascinating, albeit despicable, woman who terrorizes those who work for her, Countess Bathory. She expects slavish attention to her every whim, and she shows little to no compassion for anyone who cannot meet her incredibly high, impossible standards.
But she is only one part of the story. The other part, told simultaneously with parts from the past, concerns Dr Elizabeth Bath, a psychologist who is following in her father's footsteps both with her profession and with a connection, possibly, to the Bathory lineage.
The Countess Bathory was a real person who victimized hundreds of young girls in heinous ways simply to achieve her goal of being the most beautiful woman in the land. The young girls who worked for her and attended to her were beaten, starved, and often disappeared without a trace. In 1589 there was no one to speak for the victims or their families. Everyone in the area surrounding Countess Bathory's castle was entirely at her mercy. I thought there would be more depth given to Countess Bathory since this story was supposed to revolve around her. She remains a sinister and infamous historical presence, and a book about her should be fascinating. Unfortunately, the Countess was almost a secondary character to this story. Simply repeating over and over again that she was someone to fear, along with snippets of information about several of the girls who worked for her, does not convey the sense of pure evil the Countess should have had. Add to that the simultaneous story of a psychologist who doesn't seem to be very good at her job nor at anything else she does, and what results is lots of pages of repeated ideas with no feeling behind them.
There is also the subplot involving Daisy Hart. Had that been more interesting, it might have saved the book or given it more credibility. Instead, Daisy is also uninteresting, has clothes issues, and needs some guidance from a professional much better than Betsy Bath.
If I had to recommend this book to someone, it would be a perfect fit for a person looking for a lackluster, mediocre, very loosely plotted novel to carry around with no real interest in who is doing what to whom. No surprise, I'm not recommending **The House Of Bath** to anyone I know.
Read this one with my buddy and horror addict Shandra
The most frightening terror in the world was not ghosts, or monsters, not vampires or any of that nonsense. The most terrifying creature in the world is a madman.
I enjoy a book that makes you think and wonder if there are people in this world that are capable of horrible things. Then you do research and find out that, yes there are. I have heard of Countess Bathory, I think in high school maybe college, but never really went more into find out about her. Well I have now. I do not like her, at all. She took advantage of poor girls and slaughtered them. There are no solid facts about the precise number of girls she killed but it was speculated to be about 650, but they could only confirm 80. She tortured them and then killed them.
The writing was great, and being pulled in was no problem. I was intrigued by the characters and where the story was going. Daisy was funny and I love her drive to help, she did make me mad once or twice. Betsy and John were so cute together. Grace reminded me of my mom, alot! I think I cringed a lot in this book. Blood was everywhere!
Example: On the floor was a tub made of granite, with a long plastic hose running from the drain. Ugly brown stains had discolored the gray stone.
Or: The church cemetery is filled with the bodies of young women, all whom have served the Countess. Their bodies mangled and devoid of blood. I have seen them with my own eyes. They say the Countess bathes in their blood to preserve her youth.
So I think this is a really good book, for horror junkies. I just hated how it ended, but we can't all have the ending we want.
Betsy is a psychiatrist in the contemporary US. She's working with a young goth patient who latches on to her therapist. Meanwhile, in 17th century Eastern Europe, Countess Bathory is torturing and murdering young women in her quest for everlasting beauty. Obviously with dual timeline novels such as this there's a connection between characters and it's always interesting to see what this is. This was a fun thriller based on the real-life Bathory and I enjoyed seeing it all unfurl.
The history and the setting were the most appealing things about this story. The rest of it was just okay, with easy to digest but kind of bland writing. In fact, I've just realised, this book is a plain biscuit! Countess Bathory was a bit too Disney villain, Daisy the Goth was a bit cringe (yes, we get it, she's GOTH) and the other characters were a bit ... meh. The most interesting was Janos Szilvasi. It was fairly entertaining in the way a blockbuster film might be - quite fun at the time but ultimately forgettable.
*sigh* I had such hopes for this book considering its infamous subject of Countess Bathory. I knew some of her gory history, so that just added fuel to my interest in the book. Therefore, I was so disappointed in what the book offered. It wasn’t what I expected or hoped for and in the end, I was just happy I finally got through it.
There were many issues I had with the book, I honestly don’t know where to begin. The story and all its components never really got a strong foothold on what it was trying to convey. There wasn’t any depth to the writing, the plot and the characters. As I read through the book, I was constantly looking for more. I just felt that the story was just automatically moving from one scene to another with the intent to get to its conclusion. There was never any real development or build up of the characters and the story. It didn’t help that Linda Lafferty was constantly shifting between time periods in each chapter and said chapters tended to be short and, at times, abrupt. It made it difficult for me to get immersed in what was going on since in a page or two there’s a new chapter and the focus is back in the past or in the present. As a whole, I thought Lafferty could’ve written and organized the story in a better way with more fluidity to the narrative where she could really expand on the scenes and characters and actually make me care about what was going on.
Which brings me to my next issue: her characters. I honestly never felt anything for them. Not because I didn’t like them, but that I never truly got a sense for who they were and the relationships with each other. Everything that I know of Betsy, Daisy, Grace, Janos, Zuzanna, Countess Bathory, etc. were all on a superficial level. I never understood their mindset/motivations. In a sense, I only read of their roles in the story and not the people behind them. There were no true connections and those that were present, for example between Betsy and Daisy and Betsy and John, weren’t developed well enough to buy what was between them. And I was especially disappointed in the way Countess Bathory was written/presented. Considering her infamous and gory history, I wanted a more expanded narrative of who she was, an exploration of her psyche and what induced her to commit such vile acts and to really take the opportunity to develop these epic scenes involving her. And yet, she really only directly occupies 25% the book and the rest of the time either mentioned indirectly or in passing. If you’re going to present yourself as a story revolving around Countess Bathory, I would expect a bigger presence from her.
These issues that I have mentioned are really more of the symptoms of the main problem: the book never had a definitive sense of identity. I wasn’t sure whether it’s a psychological exploration into cults or fantasy involving reincarnation. The fact that it’s a historical fiction story is the only thing I’m certain of. Its prologue with the mention the legend of the Taltos and the threat they pose to the Bathory family led me to believe that some form of magic/superstition interplay will be involved. However, it’s mentioned towards the end and really plays no role into what happens. This is just one of many instances where your thinking is led towards a certain idea but it never comes to fruition. It all just left me feeling confused and uncertain about what was going on (i.e. the issue with Daisy and Morgan, who Count Bathory really was, were Daisy, Betsy and Morgan reincarnated people from the Countess’ time?). There was never any true explanation about what was going (or it was done half-assed) so I was never sure of what exactly happened. Even in the end, there were no explanations or definitive resolutions and it was all done in a quick fashion that still left me in the dark, shaking my head.
As a fan of historical fiction, having Countess Bathory as the heart of a book excited me, thinking about all the possibilities the story could have. Therefore, it was disappointing at what Lafferty produced in this book. It was just plain and predictable without any personality. I’ve read one other book from Lafferty, The Bloodletter's Daughter: A Novel of Old Bohemia, which I actually did like and had some of what I wanted in this book. I had hoped that her other works would be even better. Unfortunately, it went the other way around. This book as a whole just left me indifferent and confused. I hate giving one stars and have been fortunate enough not to do it often, but I cannot honestly give this book any higher of a rating.
I should have trusted the average review/rating on this one.
I just really wanted anything on Elizabeth Bathory, and I figured "well, it might sort of suck, but I'll still get some interesting tidbits about her life."
I figured wrong. This book was excruciatingly slow, juggling not only several different character perspectives, but two different time periods as well (1610 and 2010).
I'm not even sure why I gave it two stars (I'm actually changing it to one, now that I've finished this review). I can't think of anything I liked about the book. If I wasn't in the bizarre category of "those who refuse to DNF" a book, I'm about 95% certain this would have been the case at about 25% - if not earlier. I'll try to summarize the plot, but the present-day characters were awful, while the "real", historical characters were portrayed almost robotically; nearly devoid of personality.
The plot has something to do with a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst who has lost her father. She connects with a teenage patient of hers, who has a penchant for two things: 1) obsessing over all things "Goth" (uh, wasn't that over with in the early 2000s after Marilyn Manson?) and 2) doing such incredibly stupid things that at some point, you finally throw your hands up and say you honestly don't care if she gets kidnapped/murdered. Anyway, psychiatrist is obsessed with Carl Jung and his philosophy of synchronicity.
For as much as Betsy (the psychiatrist) is obsessed with this whole concept, she seems pretty eager to shove Daisy (annoying patient) aside, even when Daisy is clearly displaying signs of this "interconnectedness" through the nightmares she's been having. Ordinarily I wouldn't blame her, as annoying as Daisy is, but when your patient is displaying signs of the very same dream philosophies you and your father (your mentor and idol) subscribe to, you're probably going to hear her out. Even if that does mean listening to her ramble about "how totally Goth" Slovakia is, while you're on a serious mission to try to save your mother, who has apparently gone missing in the nation's capital, Bratislava.
Betsy isn't the brightest bulb in the garage either. When her ex tries to help her at first with her mother's disappearance, she exclaims (I believe to herself): "Damn him and his rational, logical thinking! Why does everything always have to be logical with him?!" Umm... I think maintaining as clear of a head as possible and being rational about things is great for most aspects of life, but especially in emergencies. Betsy apparently does not appreciate this quality. I would think she'd be somewhat rational, given her profession, but evidently she only caters to the right side of her brain. Seems like a good psychoanalyst would use both, but that is not Betsy. Betsy is not a psychoanalyst I'd want to see.
There's just this huge mess where her mother gets kidnapped over some old ledger that someone connected to Countess Bathory wants (that's as much as I can say without spoiling it). The mother doesn't even have it; Betsy does. Betsy then travels to Slovakia. Daisy follows, because, you know... synchronicity. In between this rescue mission and getting to the truth (which you know all along anyway) you get flashbacks to 1610, the year of Countess Bathory's arrest. It tells some tales of how cruel she was to her handmaidens, how she'd murder them in her "night games" to bathe in their blood, but...
It's just plain boring. I may have been reading other books at this time - yet if this one had been even moderately entertaining, it would not have taken me two weeks to complete it. I was relieved when I could put it down. Now I'm relieved to end this review. As one reviewer said, it's quite the feat to make the "Blood Countess" boring.
If anyone knows any good books or movies about Countess Bathory, I'd be delighted to hear your recommendations. Avoid this mess at all costs.
This is my second novel by Ms. Lafferty, the first being The Bloodletter's Daughter and I have to say I am quite taken with her. Her one sentence writing style descriptor would be that she is the literary love child of Philippa Gregory and Anne Rice (minus that unfortunate born again Christian phase that Ms. Rice finally abandoned in 2010). Gregory and Lafferty have both made names for themselves by writing historical fiction about the women of the past. Interesting people in their own right who have been relegated to a single chapter or footnote in the overview of European history. Only Lafferty, unlike Gregory, chooses the dark and sinister stories of the bad girls of history. As I mentioned in the prior review, Ms Gregory is vastly more thorough in the "historical" portions of her heroine historical fiction. Resulting in books that, some would say, or more respectable than Lafferty's works. However they are equally enjoyable in my eyes. But for you to enjoy them, you should be comfortable leaving the perfumed pomp of candlelit dining halls and gardens to descend into the darker recesses of the castle where the rats scurry away from the darkest of human traits.
In this book Lafferty takes on the history of the Countess of Bathory, a descendant of Vlad The Impaler, whose antics terrorized the inhabitants of Čachtice, Slovakia in the early 1600s. There are two major plot lines in this book one, one being the present and the other being the past. Going between the two is effortless and creates that wonderful sensation of whipping through the chapters because you want to get back to the other story line to find out what happens next. And then repeat for the OTHER story line. Resulting in a very quick read.
Overlaid on the whole book is a heavy dose of the idea of a "collective consciousness", which made me smirk because a friend and I have discussed this many times into the wee hours of the night. Collective consciousness was an idea proposed by the legendary Carl Jung, and Lafferty uses one of his titular works, The Red Book, to galvanize her characters around the concept that there are no coincidences and that dreams and thoughts can be passed on via the subconscious rather than through more direct lines of communication. If you prefer rational fact based communication this can, at times, make the story line feel forced or have your skepticism getting in the way of your reading enjoyment. But delightfully, she throws a character in there that has the same sort of skepticism which I appreciated as it provided a sort of Greek chorus to acknowledge all points of view.
All in all an enjoyable, though somewhat sinister, read. Good enough that I will probably pick up yet another of her novels in the future when I'm in the mood for something a bit gothic.
I was disappointed by this book, I wanted it to be so much more than I got. Elizabeth Bathory is a historical figure who borders upon legend, there are so many stories of her bloodiness that it is almost impossible now to separate the fact from the fiction. Due to this I expected the book to focus a little more on her bloodthirstiness (for want of a better word) I expected a little more horror than there was. Elizabeth Bathory is a character where you could truly run wild with the story telling, but this seemed a little restrained and most of the “horror” was implied.
I’m not exactly sure why but as I read this, I couldn’t help visualising Bathory as Disney’s Cruella DeVille.
I did enjoy the time slip aspect of this book. As a rule I adore books that take place in more than one time period. Betsy Path and Daisy Hart in the modern day to me felt as though they were lacking something, their personalities appeared to be almost painted on. The use of Jung in the story, although I’m not particularly knowlegable about psychology, it did add a bit of extra intelligence to the novel which I feel it needed.
An amazing, horrifying story about the notorious Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Having just finished the book, I am still in shock over how evil a person can be, and how much horror they can inflict on other people. I recommend this book for readers 18+ who enjoy historical fiction, but it could also very much be seen as a horror novel.
I guess I didn't really know exactly what I was going to get with this book when I first opened it, I knew I loved the sound of it, I knew it featured Elizabeth Bathory, one of the world's most infamous serial killers and was often suspected of being a vampire. Just having her in the book was what drew me in in the first place. Did I get the book I was expecting? Well no but that's not to say that this book isn't great regardless as it's a great read.
The book opens on October 31st 1589 in Western Hungary with the birth of a Magyar (Magyars are members of a people in the Urals who migrated west to settle in what is now Hungary in the 9th century AD). This Magyar boy is special as he also a 'Taltos' (Taltos in Hungarian tradition are humans similar to shamans. A Taltos can be either male or female and should be born with more bones than usual, like six fingers, or with already fully formed and grown teeth. They are taught during childhood to be a shaman although many learn there craft preternaturally and know it from birth. Taltos tradition has horse linked closely with it.), he has been born with five fingers on one hand and with all his teeth fully formed. To hide the baby's condition the mother and midwife plan to remove the extra finger and take the babe away until such time that his teeth can easily be explained so no-one would expect his Taltos status.
Then the book splits it time between two times periods........
The first begins in modern day 2010, Colorado on October 31st Here we meet Dr. Elizabeth Path or Betsy as she prefers to be known. She is a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a therapist or whatever they prefer to be called these days. She's of Eastern European descent through her father, she was married once but now live alone with her dog and works from home, in a office her father used to use as his own too. One of her current patients is a teenage goth girl called Daisy Hart who's case is rather odd and interesting. She keeps on having strange choking events where she begins choking for no apparent reason but there are other issues to including some really peculiar dreams and nightmares
The second is during the seventeenth century at Cachtice Castle in Hungary, one of the many homes of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Here we catch up with the Taltos baby from the prologue, now he's a grown man called Janos and he's about to enter the service of Countess Bathory as her new horsemaster. Over a period of time we learn of the strange disappearances of many of the Countesses female servants, what is the Countess hiding, why will she not be seen during daylight hours, why will she only allow disfigured serving girl Zuzana into her dressing room? Something is deeply afoot at Cachtice Castle and rumours of wrongdoings at the castle have even reached the ear of the king.
What is there to love about this book?
It is a very interesting book but both time periods have different things going for them.
The modern time line was intriguing through the missing girls in Hungary and through Daisy Hart and her growing issues but while this part of the book seemed to focus more on Betsy it was Daisy I wanted to read about as she's fundamentally a more intriguing character. You can see throughout that there has to be a reason why Betsy is the focus, there must be something to link her story to the Countess and the fun of the book is trying to work out what they link is and how Daisy and her dreams fits into it.
The historical storyline shows the fall of Countess Bathory. We get to see suspicions about her conduct grow as girl keep disappearing while in her service or turn up just dead. Rumours are flying wildly and have reached the King who wants to put a stop to whatever is going on Cachtice Castle but as the Countess is a noblewoman he needs some kind of proof to be able to do anything about her conduct. From a historical standpoint it's brilliant and as I haven't read anything based on Bathory before it was fabulous to read. Most people know the legend of Countess Bathory, about how she killed hundreds of young virgin girls and bathed in their blood to keep herself young and it's been insinuated often that she was actually a vampire through her links with Vlad Tepes, this time around looks more at the killings of the girls and stays away from the vampire legend..... shame, I quite like the vampire legend myself.
One of the other things I did love about the books was the relationship between Betsy and her patient Daisy...... why? Because it's very strange, Daisy goes from not being able to connect with her therapist to following her halfway across the world to save her life. At first Daisy is unable to even speak to Betsy, then as their relationship develops it gets a bit creepy to the point where Daisy is breaking into Betsy's house and stealing from her, then next ting you know Daisy is flying across the world to find Betsy in Hungary to help her, to save her..... keeping in mind that Daisy is a teenage girl she's a brave, plucky girl. Creepy though the relationship can be at time it is the clue that binds the modern portion of the story together. As the childhood to adulthood relationship we find between Janos, the Taltos, and Zuzana, Countess Bathory's pox disfigured handmaiden in the historic portion of the book. Janos and Zuzana's relationship is sweet and I love the dynamics between them even if it wasn't feature enough for me. They are protective of each other and have a great deal of respect for each other but I was waiting for the romance to blossom between them..... and I was disappointed. Despite that their relationship is a beautiful addition to the story and could've been made a lot more of as I really liked it.
Was there anything not so good? At time this book really is a book of two halves and it gets quite difficult to see how the two timelines fit together, what links them together to create a book. How are Betsy and Countess Bathory linked if they are linked at all, how does it all fit together. It does all come together towards the end but on reflection I don't think the links are entirely tangible, it seems like such a loose link that doesn't fit which is odd.
One of the more interesting aspects about the books was the Magyar Taltos thing that is hinted at in the prologue. As I was unsure on what Magyar and Taltos actually were I had to look them both up and found the legend of Taltos really intriguing and really hoped that the Taltos boy would have a huge impact on the story and might amp up any supernatural elements but it was sadly not to be. The boy grew into a man and entered into service of the Countess as horsemaster but there was no real follow through with the Taltos thing, I wanted more made of it and was a bit gutted that it never really happened.
I also felt a little let down by the character of Elizabeth Bathory herself, it felt like she was just a passing presence and I wanted to find out more about her, to watch her in terrible action, to get a more in depth glimpse at the woman. If this had been a book set purely in her time I think I would have got what I wanted from her but as this is a split time book I guess her presence had to be cut back on and I think the book is poorer for it.
Was it interesting and enjoyable to read?
While it may have let me down in some aspects overall it was a perfectly enjoyable book to read and it did have me intrigued throughout. It was full of mystery but of course the biggest mystery, for me at least, was how the two timelines link together, what the common thread between two times and stories really was and it was a lot of fun trying to figure it out ahead of actually finding out the truth of the book. The plot is completely believable both in the historic and in the modern sections of the book, it all makes sense and doesn't stretch the truth to breaking point like some books like this do sometimes. It was an intriguing read throughout the book and the ending , while being a bit predictable, was brilliantly done.
Was it a well written book?
I think so, it wasn't a hard book to read as it flowed easily and used everyday wording that's effortless to understand. The pacing was spot on and Lafferty painted a masterful picture of 17th century Hungary while keeping the modern day part fresh and up to date. It's book mired in a darkness, that had so much potential to go down the supernatural route but the author decided to avoid that route, it's a route hinted at but not travelled. Lafferty showed no lack of expression and handled the subject matter with a gentle touch. It's a well plotted book and the two storylines flowed flawlessly side by side until they meet but I do think that it needed a bit more of link than we got, something deeper but overall the book is well executed and is an eye-opening tale.
Would you recommend it to others?
If the legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory is one that has intrigued you then this book is one for you, if you like mystery book then this will suit you even more as it will be a great read for fans of historical novels too. It pretty much has something to suit most tastes so if you like the sound of it you might as well give it a go, it is worth a read in my opinion.
If you're at all interested in Erzsebet Bathory, don't read this book. You will never get those four hours back, no matter how scathing your review.
Obviously if you've read the description, you know that half of the book takes place in the present. And if you made it to the Afterward without slitting your wrists, you'll know that the Lafferty decided that she could create a main character who was a psychologist without actually consulting a LIVING psychologist for reference (although she apparently did consult A GOTH "presumably living").
As a practicing therapist who used to co-organize events at a goth/industrial club during grad school (none of which involved mass suicide or eviscerating puppies), I think the author might have benefited from a larger sample size of goths than ONE. Among THE GOTHS were grad students, professors, archaeologists, filmmakers, actors, programmers, and my entire Yalom's Experiential Group Therapy class (even though Dr. Jones had threatened to run us over with her car if we fraternized outside of group), and only one--yes, just one--mortician. No one had blue hair or dressed like anime characters even though it was 2010. None of us were anorexic. Many of us did CrossFit. My favorite event was Fetish Night with Your Furry Friend (where you dressed in your favorite fetish attire and brought along my your favorite childhood stuffed animal, similarly attired). My Snoozy Bear got wasted in her little bondage collar...
On to therapy... Therapists, psychologists, and counselors often pull on the techniques of Alfred Adler (self-actualization through positive social involvement), William Glasser (reality therapy), or Carl Rogers (unconditional positive regard). I've met a couple colleagues who studied and did dissertations on Freud and Jung, but today's practitioners rarely focus on the unconscious (at least to the extent as did Jung), and even less so on synchronicity and the collective unconscious (which to many of us, is crap--Jung is important for the concept of analytical psychology, just as Freud is important for talk therapy, but their actual ideologies have little place in modern psychology).
Also, let's not forget that Betsy basically crosses enough boundaries to lose her license. She talks to her client's sister without the mother's permission, and instead of ending the therapeutic relationship when Daisy becomes too involved, she allows Daisy to put herself in danger. When Daisy called to tell her that she saw men digging at Betsy's father's grave, Betsy should have called Daisy's mother immediately. She certainly should not have left a foreign airport with her underage client. And yes, when you are treating a minor, your actual "client" is the parent. Your contract is with the parent. Your communication (setting up appointments, TELLING THEM YOU'RE LEAVING THE COUNTRY, and setting up a colleague to cover emergencies) is to the parent. You don't get to come home to your messy practice and live happily ever after--you come home, get your license pulled by the American Psychological Association, and probably face some criminal charges as well...
And OMG, there it is--yet ANOTHER book where some yahoos (in this case, both Betsy AND the Count) are descendants of Countess Bathory. At least the only time I dressed up as Bathory was the Halloween before the millennium; I wore a burgundy cape my sister sewed for me over a brocade period gown (my sister is an amazing artist--unfortunately, like most artists, she can't adhere to deadlines--she'd been promising me the outfit since 1996). I carried a long vial of oil mixed with red food coloring, and had a jeweled net over my pulled back hair. Because people kept asking me who I was, I finally affixed a "Batty Bathory" sticker on my cape. No one got it (I was at the "booty club," not the goth club). However, if I wore the outfit today, I'm sure I'd be sued for defamation by one of Lafferty's characters.
As to the Bathory flashbacks (which I was hoping would be historically accurate so that I might at least learn something new), they were also sadly disappointing. The story was completely fictional, written around a man who was on record as coming forward with evidence at the trial. The stories of the Countess herself were simply regurgitated from other accounts.
Finally, I found it ironic that Betsy's Jungian father made her promise never to treat delusional patients. Perhaps Lafferty skimmed over the history of Jung's actual practice. Jung was known for treating (or attempting to treat) patients with schizophrenia using analytical psychology. And what is one of the primary features of schizophrenia? You got it--delusions. And anyway, for a psychologist to stereotype all patients with delusions is ridiculous. Delusions come in all types--bizarre, non-bizarre, etc. Some delusions don't even have an effect on functioning. My delusion is that as crappy as this book was, reading it may have stimulated at least one brain cell...
To conclude, if you're going to read the book, I suggest skipping all the chapters that take place in 2010. And if you've actually read historical accounts of Countess Bathory, skip the chapters that take place in the 1600's. Delete the book, and go hang out at a goth club. Do not dye your hair happy colors, wear anything from Hot Topic, or put white stuff on your face. No one likes walking emojis. Do not try to talk about death and cemeteries, or how much lithium you're on. We're most likely talking about renewable energy, the classics (no--not Dune), and the situation in Syria. A good conversation starter would be asking us if we do CrossFit...
Not many people are aware of a historical figure in the 1600's called Countess Elizabeth Bathory, also called the Blood Countess, who ruled the Cachtice Castle in Slovakia. She murdered hundreds of girls during her odd rituals held at night in the castle grounds. Girls from the village looking for work would go to the Castle, and never be seen or heard from again, rumours of their torture and murder swirling through the locals, along with one chilling proclamation....that Countess likes to bathe in their blood to retain her youthful skin and looks.
400 years later Betsy Path, a psychoanalyst with some intuition, has a break through with one of her patients. Daisy Heart, the sullen, self proclaimed Goth, is haunted by the past, chilling dreams of a castle and blood. Betsy and Daisy struggle to understand the relevance it has to the presence and what is causing the dreams. But then Betsy's mother, Grace, who happens to be a historian, goes missing in Slovakia when researching her new book, which just so happens to be about the Countess herself. It turns our Betsy's father may have been murdered, Path may not have been his actual surname, and he had a secret he was hiding from his family. Betsy's father hid something that her mother's kidnapper and her father's murderer wants...a certain ledger written by the Countess detailing all of her 612 victims names.
As Betsy, Daisy and her Betsy's ex-husband John journey to Slovakia to try to find Grace, something becomes chillingly apparent as the pieces slot together, the Bathory blood line lives on, and is just as cursed and evil as it was 400 years ago.
I was intrigued by the draw of the Blood Countess, as the story of her and what she did was mentioned in passing in a history lesson. She's been named as the basis for Dracula along with Vlad the Impaler and you can kind of see why. I have expanded the blurb I have given as the original doesn't clue you in to all you get in the story.
I enjoyed the flicking between past and present, it was done very well and flowed smoothly from one time to another. The book was fairly fast paced, yet I found myself slogging through, as intrigued as I was. It just seemed to me that there was quite a bit of pointless information, and while the subject matter and the mystery where interesting it just lacked a certain something to make me really pay attention and make the reading of the book easier.
I found the beginning of the book very bland and boring until the last 2 parts or so, when things finally started to heat up and get interesting and there was a bit of action going on. There where some holes in the story and stretches that made the book seem very dragged out. I freely admit I ended up skimming instead of properly reading towards the middle of the book. I feel like the Countess's character could have been explored more, and the opportunity to dig deeper in to the Countess and who she was, and why she was like she was and so on was really ignored.
I was more intrigued and engrossed by the mix of history and fiction all blended with history of the area. The modern day part didn't really interest me all that much, the characters didn't engage me as much as the historical ones, nor did their plot line interest me as much. The situational Drama throughout the modern narrative was just at times irritating, at others pointless and hard to swallow.
It has to be said though, the book is truly chilling in some places, with the details not being too gruesome to make it unreadable, but gruesome enough to kind of make you get slightly creeped out. To give Lafferty credit, it appeared to be well researched, even if certain opportunities where missed, and it was a very chilling blend of mystery, history and murder.
House of Bathory was quite a let down for me. It was one of the 2014 historical fiction releases I was most curious about, but then I sort of forgot about it and got to read it only in 2015. Unfortunately, in this case I can't say I regret not picking it up sooner.
The book is not awful, but it did not work for me at all. The plot follows two different storylines: the first, in our days, tells the story of psychoanalyst Betsy Path and her patient, Daisy Hart; the second, in the early 1600s, is about Erzsébet Bathory, a countess who tortured and killed countless young women.
In my opinion, Erzsébet Bathory is one of the most disturbing and intriguing historical figures. Whether you believe she was a monster, or that her actions were mostly exaggerated so that the Crown could take hold of her properties, she is far from being boring. And yet, the Countess does not come alive in this book: to be honest, she feels most of the time like a secondary character. She is nothing more that the classic villain from fairytales: she is cruel and mad, but we never get to read some explanations for her actions. She simply has no depht.
The other characters did not impress me either. Betsy is quite flat; Daisy is a little more interesting, but she made such foolish decisions all the time that I ended up barely tolerating her. The only one who seemed a little more complex was Morgan, but she was barely developed; and the only character I genuinely cared about was Zuzana,
Probably because of my lack of interest in the characters, the plot did not involve me either. It is not completely slow or eventless, but it just did not grab me. In the end, the only things I appreciated about the book was the setting and the references to Jung's philosophy. I am not overly interested in those, but they added an original, clever touch to the plot.
If you are into philosophy you might want to try this book; however, if you are really interested in Erzsébet Bathory, you will most likely be disappointed. To be fair, I think the Countess is a highly difficult character to tackle, and I have yet to find a book with her that completely satisfied me. However, I would recommend books by Charlie Courtland and Kimberly L. Craft (both fiction and non-fiction), which give a more complex, three-dimensional view on the Countess.
This is one of those books that is very difficult for me to rate. It's written in two distinct parts - 17th century historical fiction and present day suspense. While these two storylines are woven together and alternate throughout the book, I feel like I need to rate and review them separately.
First, the book centers around the real life Countess Bathory, or the Blood Countess, who lived in Slovakia during the 1600s. This historical aspect is incredibly well written. I felt like I was there in the castle, witnessing the horrendous conditions, the torture, and the desperation. I was emotionally invested in the characters and their story.
The modern part of the story, for me, is not nearly as interesting. The premise of these characters' story - of this entire book - is synchronicity. Put simply, this is a Jungian (psychology) theory where two or more events are connected, despite having no causal relationship. The use of synchronicity here leans a bit into the paranormal and is the thread tying the past to the present. While an interesting theory, it didn't make for interesting characters. I never felt connected to them, didn't totally understand their motives, and didn't always believe their actions.
One area where the book really fell apart for me came with Daisy's character. She plays a key role in the modern story and I did not find her at all believable. I don't want to give spoilers, so I'll just say that I found this especially troublesome toward the end. I wanted to scream, "Where are this girl's parents?"
I didn't like the end at all. It felt too chaotic, with too many characters all converging in order to tie everything up neatly. Again, I didn't find most of these events at all believable.
Overall, I think perhaps the story became bigger than it needed to be. Kept as historical fiction, this would have been a fascinating, 5-star read for me. But there were far too many characters and not nearly enough of the modern story to make an impact, and the book suffered because of that.
House of Bathory was extremely intriguing. I was hooked and excited only 3% into the book. Usually stories that take place in the present as well as in the past have something missing, they just don't fit together. Lafferty proved that past and present could indeed be melded together to create a fantastic story. This tale didn't snag at all. The tale was weaved together so well that I sometimes forgot if I was in present time or past. The times effortlessly melted into each other. I have even become excited about doing further research on The Red Book by, C.G. Jung, which is a book that is mentioned extensively in House of Bathory. I love books that make me want to research further into what inspired the author in the first place. House of Bathory, follows the tale of Erzebet Bathory, the action takes place in the tale is similar to what is seen in the movie The Countess, starring Julie Deply. (Which honestly is all that I know about Erzbet Bathory.) The past and present occur simultaneously, following the life of Besty Path a psychologist living in 2010. House of Bathory is a tale of interconnectedness, dreams, and madness. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think that others will too.
I really wanted to like this book. And with that being said, I thought it was a quick and interesting read. I liked the way the characters intertwined and the timelines matched up. However, the ended seemed a bit abrupt and left me with more questions than answers. The character development in some cases was lacking. Not necessarily spoilers but, I wanted to know more about Daisy/Morgan/Dad relationship; what really happened there? How were Daisy, Morgan, and Dr. Path all in the same bloodline when they weren't related by blood or was this just a convenient way to make the story-lines match up? Then to toss the wedding in there at the end? And was Kyle really necessary to the story or was it just another unnecessary romance? I personally also wanted some more detail, more grotesque storytelling from the Countess. That was a unique case in history and should have been looked more deeply into. The author skimmed what the Countess did and seemed scared to really dive into the gory details which would have made this book more engrossing.
So I guess if you're looking for a quick and interesting historical fiction book which will leave you with more questions than you started with this is the book I'd recommend.
The House of Bathory is a loose retelling of the famous Blood Countess story in the makeup of a light present-day thriller.
What hooked me initially was the use of past and present chapters. Part of the story is set in the 1600s Slovakia and part in present day Colorado. The other hook was the early discussion of Carl Jung discussion of synchronicity.
Hooked, I plodded on. A few times I considered quitting. Neither storyline is desperately compelling. The check-your-brains-at-the-door factor enters here and there, but is really a common theme in the latter half of the book set in present day Slovakia.
The Countess is never a main character. The historical Slovakian characters are not deep enough. They are historical figures given faint life. The modern characters have more dimension.
Jung is pretty well dropped mid-book and then thrown in at the end to tie up loose threads.
What I did enjoy was the obvious research Lafferty did to make sure the details were in place both historically and at each present day location. Her writing style is pleasant to read. Without that I fear, I wouldn't have finished it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.