House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
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.
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