The Bloodletter's Daughter

  • by Linda Lafferty
  • Narrated by Carrington MacDuffie
  • 13 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Tango "Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres."

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.
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Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-12-2012
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio