Raised by her aunt and uncle amidst the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, young orphan Virginia Tacci has always harbored a deep love for horses - though she knows she may never have the chance to ride. As a shepherdess in sixteenth-century Italy, Virginia's possibilities are doubly limited by her peasant class and her gender.
"Stolid narrative; mystifying narration choices"
In 1606, the grand city of Prague hides an ugly secret: the emperor’s bastard son, Don Julius, is afflicted with a madness that pushes the prince to unspeakable depravity. Banished to a remote corner of Bohemia, Don Julius comes under the care of a bloodletter who works to purge the vicious humors coursing through the young royal’s veins. When the prince meets the bloodletter’s daughter Marketa, his madness sparks a frenzied - and dangerous - obsession.
"Compels you to look up it's history"
In the early 1600s, Elizabeth Báthory, the infamous Blood Countess, ruled Čachtice Castle in the hinterlands of Slovakia. During bizarre nightly rites, she tortured and killed the young women she had taken on as servants. A devil, a demon, the terror of Royal Hungary — she bathed in their blood to preserve her own youth. 400 years later, echoes of the Countess’s legendary brutality reach Aspen, Colorado.
"Ambitious, but Failed by Poor Narration"
It's 1803, and an adolescent Nadya is determined not to follow in her overbearing Ukrainian mother's footsteps. She's a horsewoman, not a housewife. When Tsar Paul is assassinated in St. Petersburg and a reluctant and naive Alexander is crowned emperor, Nadya runs away from home and joins the Russian cavalry in the war against Napoleon. Disguised as a boy and riding her spirited stallion, Alcides, Nadya rises in the ranks, even as her father begs the tsar to find his daughter and send her home.
In a gender reversal of Scheherazade in The Arabian Nights: Tales from a 1,001 Nights, Ottoman princess Esma Sultan seduces a different Christian lover each night, only to have him drowned in the morning. The Sultaness's true passion burns only for the Christian-born soldier charged with carrying out her brutal nightly death sentence: her drowning guard, Ivan Postivich.