The Bloodletter's Daughter: Book summary and reviews of The Bloodletter's Daughter by Linda Lafferty

The Bloodletter's Daughter

A Novel of Old Bohemia

By Linda Lafferty

The Bloodletter's Daughter
  • Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Sep 2012,
    492 pages.

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Book Summary

Inspired by a real-life murder that threatened to topple the powerful Hapsburg dynasty, The Bloodletter’s Daughter is a dark and richly detailed saga of passion and revenge.

Within the glittering Hapsburg court in Prague lurks a darkness of which no one dares speak…

In 1606, the city of Prague shines as a golden mecca of art and culture carefully cultivated by Emperor Rudolf II. But the emperor hides an ugly secret: His bastard son, Don Julius, is afflicted with a madness that pushes the young prince to unspeakable depravity. Desperate to stem his son's growing number of scandals, the emperor exiles Don Julius to a remote corner of Bohemia where the young man is placed in the care of a bloodletter named Pichler. The bloodletter's task: cure Don Julius of his madness by purging the vicious humors coursing through his veins.

When Pichler brings his daughter Marketa to assist him, she becomes the object of Don Julius's frenzied - and dangerous - obsession. To him, she is the embodiment of the women pictured in the Coded Book of Wonder, a priceless manuscript from the imperial library that was the mad prince's only link to sanity. As the prince descends further into the darkness of his mind, his acts become ever more desperate, as Marketa, both frightened and fascinated, can’t stay away.

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Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Diane S. (Batavia, IL)
The Bloodletter's Daughter
Love the fact that this book is written about a time and place that has not been written about much. The writing style is very reader friendly and I really liked Marketa, felt very bad for her and limited choices. Also liked that so much of this book is based on historical fact, which for me makes the book more personal and informative. It was an added bonus that the author included an afterward and an author interview. Thought this was a wonderful book. sure to appeal to historical fiction lovers and those who just love reading about a subject that has not been over covered. Look froward to this authors' next subject.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Michelle H. (Van Buren, AR)
Interesting Look at Little-Known History
I wasn't sure what to expect when I read The Bloodletter's Daughter, and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew nothing about Rudolf II or his illegitimate son, Julius. The story of the Hapsburg ruler and his mentally ill son is told from the perspective of a smart, scientist-doctor-bathmaid. I dare not give away too much of the story, but I was interested enough to research Julius and the bathmaid. I was shocked to discover that the story was mostly true. It was a page-turner that seemed to fantastic too be real. Excellent historical fiction!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Lisa B. (Denton, TX)
Medicine in 16th century Bohemia
I thoroughly enjoyed the Bloodletter's Daughter. The author did a great job of invoking life in 17th century Bohemia from the bathhouses to the castles of the wealthy. I liked the fact that it was based on historical facts and the life of the illegitimate son of a Hapsburg who happened to be insane. I enjoyed the discussions of medicine of the time including the treatments for insanity, the belief in bloodletting to control the humors of the body, and the use of herbs.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Nancy L. (Denver, NC)
The Bloodletter's Daughter
Had no idea this really happened. It is so scary to think people lived this way in the 1600s. I've heard of the Hapsburgs, but did not know anything about Don Julius and how mean he was.
It was encouraging to know there were women in that time who sought to be more than was expected of them. Marketa had to be extremely brave to do what she did and not expect any credit for it.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Naya G. (Amherst, MA)
Poorly Executed/Loosely Historical?
I was surprised at how poorly written this story was - it has an interesting storyline and the potential for intriguing characters. However, the dialogue and descriptions left much to be desired.

I admit that I don't know very much about 17th century Bohemia but even without doing a bit of fact-checking, I got the sense that historical context was not important to the author's version of this story, and yet it is clear that Lafferty had a wealth of details to share. Feeling the need to do a bit of research on my own, I lost any suspension of disbelief I might have had with the story.

The story definitely had potential - Marketa, in particular, was a character I wanted to know more about but at times it seemed as if she acted out of character, especially with relation to her & Don Julius. The characters all felt either over -dramatized or flat. The story overall was much the same.

Clearly a fair bit of research went into this tale but that is part of the problem - we see the research not the characters or a believable narrative.

Lastly, the ending is an unbelievable twist making the whole novel feel like it was only a detailed but poorly written romance, rather than compelling historical fiction.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by John P. (Timonium, MD)
Bloodletter's Daughter
I really enjoyed the book as it was a reminder of the power of families during the 1600 hundreds. The character development is wonderful and you are left with a feeling of suspense and surprise as they interact.
A great conversation book for book clubs and for those interested in history.

...12 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Linda Lafferty Author Biography

The daughter of a naval commander, Linda Lafferty attended fourteen different schools growing up, ultimately graduating from the University of Colorado with a master's degree and a PhD in education. Her peripatetic childhood nourished a lifelong love of travel, and she studied abroad in England, France, Mexico, and Spain. Her uncle introduced her to the sport of polo when she was just ten years old, and she enjoys playing to this day. She also competed on the Lancaster University Riding Team in England in stadium jumping, cross country, and dressage. A veteran school educator, she is the author of The Bloodletter's Daughter and The Drowning Guard. She lives in Colorado.

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