In sixteenth-century Hungary, Countess Elizabeth Báthory tortured and killed over six hundred servant girls in order to bathe in their blood; she believed this brutal ritual would preserve her youth and beauty. Danica, a young forensic psychologist, is drawn to Báthory’s legend. She has moved from Canada to England to work at Stowmoor, a Victorian insane asylum turned modern-day forensic hospital. One of her patients, the notorious Martin Foster, murdered a fourteen-year-old girl in homage to Báthory. He cultivates his criminal celebrity, and Danica struggles to maintain a professional demeanor with the charismatic Foster as she begins to suspect that his activities may be linked to a cabal that idolizes the countess.
Danica’s life in London becomes increasingly complicated when Maria, a glamorous friend from Danica’s past, arrives to do archival work in the city. She claims to have discovered Báthory’s long-lost diaries and she slowly reveals to Danica the horrific, yet fascinating passages. As Danica’s career and her relationship with her artist-boyfriend, Henry, falters, Maria lures her into a complex social sphere. Unsure of whom to trust as her professional and personal lives become dangerously entwined, Danica must decide what she is willing to risk to satisfy her attraction to Báthory’s ominous legend.close this panel
“[F]ast and wicked and dark. The writing in this novel is as clean and slick as a stiletto between the ribs.?
- National Post ()