When I first picked up this book, I was pretty excited. Tosca Lee cowrote an amazing trilogy with Ted Dekker, one of my favorite authors of all time, called The Books of Mortals. It was Christian speculative fiction at its finest. I’ve read Havah by Tosca Lee, which was a reimagining of the life of Eve, the first woman, but that’s the only book I’ve read written by her alone. When I saw the writeup for this book, a tale about the descendants of one of the world’s most infamous female serial killers, Elizabeth Bathory, I was very intrigued.
My initial issue with this was that I felt like it was falsely advertised. It was a fun, fast-paced book, but it didn’t seem to have any Christian connotations at all. (I read about the book in a Christian Fiction magazine, thus the expectation.) But, as I said, it was fun and fast-paced, so I let the morality or lack thereof go. Maybe it was just a marketing tactic, I thought. However, my moral issues with the book were answered as I got closer to the end of the book, and theology began to become a topic of conversation for our characters. The morals and theology in this book never felt forced or improbable. This was Christian fiction that I feel like non-Christians could be completely comfortable reading. It has a message, but that message is never shoved down readers’ throats.
The plot itself was pretty engrossing. I’ve always thought that Elizabeth Bathory, also known as the Blood Countess, was fascinating. Getting a different possible side to her story was incredibly interesting. And the whole concept of the Progeny, offspring of the Countess with certain unique gifts, being hunted to extinction by a group whose sole purpose was to wipe her bloodline from the face of the earth, was such a cool concept. I totally understand the comparisons to The Da Vinci Code and Orphan Black.
The characters were where the book fell a bit flat for me. Our main character has undergone a procedure to wipe her own memory. Because of this, she has no idea who she can trust. The other characters who cross her path (who I won’t name so as not to give anything away) are a vibrant but fragile group. Every single character was undoubtedly interesting theoretically. But for some reason, I struggled to connect with any of them. They were all so cool, but they didn’t feel real. However, this changed toward the end of the book, especially for our two main characters. But the last fifty pages or so, I cared for them and felt for them. I just wish I could’ve developed that connection sooner.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I had a hard time connecting at first, but that improved as the story progressed. The plot was pretty fantastic. Do be aware that this ended with a pretty hardcore cliffhanger, so make sure you have book 2 (Firstborn) readily available if you decide to give this book a try!