In 1606, the grand city of Prague hides an ugly secret: the emperor's bastard son, Don Julius, is afflicted with a madness that pushes the prince to unspeakable depravity. Banished to a remote corner of Bohemia, Don Julius comes under the care of a bloodletter who works to purge the vicious humors coursing through the young royal's veins. When the prince meets the bloodletter's daughter Marketa, his madness sparks a frenzied - and dangerous - obsession. He believes Marketa embodies the women from the Coded Book of Wonder, a priceless manuscript from the imperial library that was the young prince's only link to sanity. As the prince descends further into the darkness of his mind, his acts become ever more desperate, and Marketa, both frightened and fascinated, can't stay away.
Inspired by a true murder that rocked the Hapsburg dynasty, The Bloodletter's Daughter is a dark and richly detailed saga of passion and revenge.
©2012 Trish McCallan (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Compels you to look up it's history"
I have to say, as soon as I finished with this book, I went straight to Google to look up the actual history of Don Julius. It's all there too, the castle to tour, along with facts on Don Julius, Marketa, and the White Lady. Very interesting stuff, that I would never have ran across, if not for this book. Looking things up after reading is best, if you aren't familiar with these characters, cause knowing the outcome would ruin the ending.
The book tends to put everything in fairy tale proportions, but in this case maybe that's for the best.
I switched back and forth with kindle and listening, as I didn't care too much for the narrator. She wasn't bad, I just didn't like the way some of the voices sounded.
"Interesting Story of an Era and Place I Never Knew"
As soon as I finished this, I had to look up the details of Don Julius, the mad son of King Rudolph II and his relationship with Marketa . . . best done AFTER listening to The Bloodletter's Daughter. The 1600's was a fascinating time in history, when a great debate between Christianity and Science began, as well as one between Catholics and Protestants. While some listeners think the book long and wandering with unneeded content, I found the discussions of astrology, medicine, potions, changing thoughts on bleeding patients, and the great battle between the priest and the physician to be critical to the story and time period . . . and a great foundation for modern medicine and science. Without wavering on faith in God. In the beginning, I was put off by the acts in the bath houses, and very much so by Marketa's mother . . . but now I have researched, and I find that the bath houses were common during this period in history. I'm saddened that children could have been used in this way. The book is fiction, written very much like an old Grimm's fairy tale, mixing historical facts with some "magic" and taking some liberties . . . the legend of the white lady exist and are expertly woven into the book . . . It was a long listen, expertly woven and the end was worth the wait.
"TMI - Great Research/Poor Editing"
This book is set in a period (early 17th century) and place (Bohemia) that is fascinating and has been little used for historical fiction. That combined with good ratings motivated me to give this book a try. The story is based on a true incident of the obsession of the violently insane Don Julius, illegitimate son of King Rudolf II, with a bathmaid, Marketa. In telling the tale, Lafferty also weaves the Renaissance push/pull of culture and folklore vs. science and psuedo-science into the plot and the setting to mostly good effect.
You can quickly tell in listening, that Linda Lafferty has done her homework - most scientists of record and major political figures of the time are all tossed into the book, but there is little or no connection with many of these figures and the actual plot of the story. In fact, Marketa's personal story that drives the plot has little to do with the great events of the time and what tenuous connection the author makes often seems contrived. Lafferty has a whole chapter on Keppler who plays NO ROLE in the plot at all. A man who was a great mathemetician and both an astromer and an atrologer (can you imagine??) is surely a character any author would love, but this was totally off track in the novel. The extraneous characters and world events simply slow the plot, bloat the novel, and break the tension the author wants to create.
However, my greatest aggravation with the book is the characters. They almost have a fairy tale stereotypic quality to them - the loving but passive and ineffectual father, the wicked stepmother (really a mother who acts like a wicked stepmother), the big bad wolf (Don Julius), the virginal and beautiful lower class maiden (Marketa - but think Cinderella), the fairy godmother/good witch Glenda (Anabella), and the dashing young prince (well in this case, he's a doctor). In addition, the dialog is wooden and unnatural. Without exception the characters are lacking complexity and I felt no empathy for any of them. This is a dark story, but when you simply do not care about the characters, any suspense in the novel just evaporates.
Carrington MacDuffie as the narrator was reasonably good. Her voice is a good match for the story and I really liked her delivery in the narrative passages of the book. She's also pretty good at being able to read male dialog without making me wince. Two complaints that would be more editorial and production related rather than a cut on the narrator. 1. Every bit of dialog in this book would have been spoken in a language other than English (mostly Czech or German) so I don't really understand the point in giving all the characters an accent. Especially when the accent used is basically the same for all the characters and lends no nuance to the reading. Just read the English with a normal voice and trust me to understand that these people are in Eastern Europe and don't speak English. 2. Several times within the recording a sentence is repeated - probably when the narrator has taken a break. Not a huge thing, but any time that happens, the listener is pulled out of the story briefly. For what audio books cost, I believe there's no excuse for sloppy production on them.
Sadly, although this book was clearly well researched and I did learn some interesting things about this historical period (both from the book and from having my curiosity picqued enough to look further), the book is just not well written. The prose is flat, the book is badly under edited, and the characters are dull and unmemorable. If you'd like a look at the late Renaissance period from a rather fresh perspective, you might find this book worthwhile, but if you are looking for real great historical fiction, look elsewhere.
"Surprisingly different historical fiction offering"
Historical fiction is my favorite genre. This particular novel is more fiction than history but I would say it still belong in the genre. I have many favorite historical novels and would include this one among them.
The final chapters are memorable. The plot picks up and you cannot put the book down.
The narrator stayed out of the way of the story. The narration added dimension to the characters but did not distract.
I would not change the name. The blood letter and his daughter were my favorite characters. Character development was excellent .... The characters' flaws made them very believable.
The book is set in Eastern Europe at a time and in a location that have not been exploited by writers of the genre. It is obviously very well researched. The author brings the physical setting to life and incorporates a local legend into the novel. I understand this is the first book for this writer. I hope she keeps on writing.
"HISTORICAL FICTION AT IT'S BEST!!!"
I just finished the Bloodletter's Daughter and I have to admit I quite enjoyed the historically based story of the mad prince's obsession with a bath maid. I would have enjoyed this book regardless, but it was made all the better because it was based on a true story. I felt a mixture of pity and hate towards the mad bastard prince Don Julius and my heart broke for Marketa, who was the focus of his obsession. Mental illness is never pretty but I can't imagine what it must have been like back in the 1600's without proper understanding and medication. The fear and frustration that must have been felt towards the spoiled, dangerous and crazy prince that was allowed to roam free without any consequences from his father the king.
A different narrator would have helped a lot. This one read like a robot - no emotion.
Not the Audible version.
As I said above, it was so robotic I had to turn it off. It was like listening to a second grader.
"Not for the lighthearted"
Yes, some of the characters seem to have psychic abilities and there is a hint of a supernatural story line. I would expand on these areas more.
I thought it ended as it should. I made the mistake of getting curious about the real life events in the story and read about them half way through the book. It totally ruined the second half of the book for me. Read the story and then if you are curious read the history afterwards-it's not exactly the same anyway.
There are some editing problems with the narration and some of the voices seem off. Having said that, these items do not significantly impair the story.
If you are looking for a brooding romance where a misunderstood prince is rescued by the love of a coy maiden this is not your story. The historical backdrop is fascinating but there are some very sad and shocking parts to this story.
I do not understand why someone would would select a person who sounds like a middle-age American women to read a book consisting mostly of dialogue between a young teenage Hungarian girl and older Hungarian/German men. Most of the book was read in extremely painful accents! And the parts she read in her "normal" American accent made the European-accented parts even more jarring. I would not recommend the audio version of this book because of this.
"Was not expecting so much rape...but powerful story"
A great, powerful story about a young woman ahead of her time, but I wish I had been prepared for all the rape...still a great little-known story that history has mostly forgotten about a mad prince, a doctor, a witch, and a bath maid.
"Excellent Author. ...seamless from act to fiction"
Amazing. ...traveled to Chesky Kurmlov. I was in awe and so happy I listened to this book twice. I recommend the book, author and narrator.
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