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Book Reviews: House of Bathory + Sparrow Hill Road

House of Bathory by Linda Laffetry
This starts out with promise; in 1610 Erzebet Bathory the infamous Blood Countess rules over vast lands. But her long-ignored defects of character and frightening number of murder victims are about to be exposed. In 2010, a group of self-absorbed people learn that a sinister death cult is operating, worshiping the perfectly abominable Erzebet and awaiting her return. Sadly the promise is but false hope.

The book drags on abounding in volatile idiots who are self-serving and don’t understand moral values or the choices they make and the consequences that follow. The belligerent baddie the ‘goodies’ are pitted against is an unstable, foaming, ponderous, overblown sybarite who wouldn’t seem out of place in a ‘Famous Five’ novel. The ‘goodies’ are petulant, railing, stolid, banal tools who engage in forced camaraderies and seem to regard running around Slovakia looking for kidnappers and murderers as a terrific lark.

This is oddly similar to the 1990s novel ‘The Blood Countess’ which also encapsulated distasteful subjects and a lowly set but was even worse. This book does not address the theory that the stories of Erzebet’s proclivities were a demonisation tactic used to steal her wealth and the unpleasant consequences she faced were undeserved. Erzebet is a mystifying enigma who indulges in night games, wild sex and up until now has been unaccountable. Cue psychobabble, characters with unfortunate family secrets and babbling about a Taltos. It is all phenomenally silly and disgracefully boring. To read this is to regret it, it is not taut rather an unprecedentedly boring, pandering, inconsequential tale of clinical case narcissists and their unapologetic, garish, deluded trashiness. The entire point of this book is elusive and frustratingly unclear.

Best Lines:
“Barbaric Transylvanian who gives his own sister bastards.”

“Why are you skulking around like a thief? Brush my hair!”

“How did they build straight up from the rock like that?”
“Ottoman slaves captured in the wars,”

“The Hungarians threw the slaves into a pit to die the moment they placed the last stone.”

“You’ll be encased in stone, the stones that have witnessed your wickedness!”

“Now I see murder spread out at my feet!”

“What wicked occupation does she practice?”

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire
This spin off from the wretched ‘InCryptid’ novels is good from the outset. Rose is the phantom hitchhiker, source of the all the urban legends. She died long before the empty internet age and has been running from the rapacious man who killed her ever since. Told in a series of vignettes, this is a good tale of an unquiet ghost and her travels on the perilously haunted roads of America. This was nice. What are doom-crows, gather-grims and the kindly ones? We don’t find out, maybe in a follow up?

Best Lines:
“The charmingly named FORK YOU GRILL.”

“You’re just another lot lizard.”

“Snow White never learns not to eat the apple, and her spiritual sister in fruit-based stupidity, Persephone, does the same.”

“The world is bigger, and bleaker, than they ever dreamed.”

“Heartbreak never woke the dead.”

“I was born when the Roman calendar still looked like a fad that couldn’t possibly last.”

“I used to wonder how many bodies were buried there. Now that I’ve met a few of the ghosts who haunt the waters of Buckley, I can say with authority that I don’t want to know.”

“You’re going after Bobby Cross.”
“Bobby Cross needs going after.”
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