Jul 112011
 

Dandelions in the Garden (Countess Elizabeth Bathory #1) by Charlie Courtland
Rating: 4/5
Source: Review copy from author
Links: Amazon, Book Depository, Smashwords, Goodreads, Author’s website

The Hidden Will of the Dragon (Countess Elizabeth Bathory #2) by Charlie Courtland
Rating: 3/5

Source: Review copy from author
Links: Amazon, Book Depository, Smashwords, Goodreads, Author’s website

Amara Borbala was the lady-in-waiting companion to Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess. They were together from the time they were young girls until after Elizabeth’s trial. This is her account of what really transpired, as dictated in a manuscript intended for Elizabeth’s grandson.

Reading these books, I realized neither is a stand alone story, or even books in a series. They are two halves of the same story: a single story split into two volumes. I can see why, the first is over 400 pages while the second is 300. It is a long story, but quite a fascinating one.

The first volume starts with Amara first joining Elizabeth and covers up to right before Elizabeth’s reputation as the Blood Countess begins. The second volume details Elizabeth’s exploits and her downfall. The story is more than just Elizabeth’s though. Amara takes centre stage and much of the story focuses on her as the narrator. This is especially true in the second volume when Amara begins to distance herself from Elizabeth.

I found both volumes fascinating. The second volume is much darker, as can be expected. The first was much lighter as the girls were much brighter, happier and more adventuresome in their youth. Something I found interesting was the feeling of age in the narration. It was easy to distinguish which sections were written as Amara as an old lady. The feeling of these sections was much older than the narration of her youth. As the narration progressed, the tone definitely matured and aged. I thought this was very well done.

Overall, I was impressed with the story. I would recommend it to fans of historical fiction. With the warning that you need to read both volumes back to back to get the full story.

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