Article first published as Book Review: Hidden Will of the Dragon by Charlie Courtland on Blogcritics.
As Lady Amara's illness continues to worsen, the shortness of time drives her to finish the ledger she has promised Count Drugeth. He has only recently sought her out in in effort to know more about his family and the history that plagues them. Only now as she looks back, writing and reflecting on her life as the ladies maid and confident of Countess Bathory, does the time seem right to set to paper the truth of what really occurred, both the joys and the horror. History would remember Countess Bathory as the Blood Countess and one of the fist women serial killers in written history, Amara would remember her as a friend.
In Hidden will of the Dragon, Charlie Courtland takes you back to the late 15th and early 16th century where women were unable to inherit and were traded in marriage in order to improve the coffers or standing of her family. Marriages were set up as business propositions and women had no choice in the matter. The same is true for Elizabeth Bathory, and because her husband is a soldier she is sent into isolation in the Hungarian countryside to reside in Cathcice.
The descriptions of the day as well as the characters pull you in and you feel the hopelessness and despair, almost as though you were there in that time and place.
Lady Amara, her friend and companion is with her through everything, a constant in her life that is so rare. I was initially fooled by Amara, thinking her to be that friend and confidant that would be the strength to deal with Elizabeth’s demons. I was disappointed to find that Amara not only had her own demons but that she was pulled into some of Elizabeth’s madness as well.
Charlie Courtland has taken a time and event in history and put a story to it that would rival the actual events. She takes the reported facts as well as many of the rumors of the day and spins them into a story so believable that is could be the true events as they transpired.
This story is not for the weak of heart as there is much madness and despair. Be prepared to be sucked into the story and become a part of it. You will see the blood spatters and will feel the actual weight of the horror as it unfolds.
I would recommend this book with the understanding that it is not lighthearted reading. I believe it would be great for a book club or a reading group. There is a great deal of information that would be interesting to discuss.
(reviewed 12 days after purchase)