“With his debut adult novel, Howarth shifts the narrative of the Elizabeth Bathory legend to a seamstress caught in a web of madness, presenting a horrifying tale of survival.”
Hungary, 1609. An accomplished seamstress dreaming of more comfortable life is chosen by Countess Bathory to sew a new series of gowns. Maria jumps at the chance, because it means leaving famine and war behind for a better life.
Maria dreams of being inviting into the Countess’s inner circle. Once she arrives at the castle, she immediately senses she’s in danger. Servants disappear, Countess Bathory is prone to fits of rage, and the screams … terrible screams in the middle of the night. Maria finds herself a prisoner, and is forced to unravel the secrets of the castle while navigating the bloody world of Countess Bathory.
Why we’re excited about this book:
When it comes to history and horror, Michael Howarth is making waves combining the two. Currently a teacher at Missouri Southern State University and director of their Honors Program, Michael is the author of Under the Bed, Creeping: Psychoanalyzing the Gothic in Children’s Literature, Movies to See before You Graduate from High School, and the young adult novel Fair Weather Ninjas. With his debut adult novel, Howarth shifts the narrative of the Elizabeth Bathory legend to a seamstress caught in a web of madness, presenting a horrifying tale of survival. Richard Thomas (Disintegration, Breaker) says “A Still and Awful Red is a haunting, visceral novel filled with horror, wonder, and unspeakable acts. This gothic tale is told with lyricism, authority, and dread, echoing Poe, Jackson, Shelley, and Stoker. A powerful story.” and Emily Cataneo (Speaking with Skull Kings) says “Evil historical women and lush decadent settings are weaknesses of mine in fiction, and A Still and Awful Red delivers with aplomb on both counts. In this novel, Howarth has written a page-turning, nail-biting account of Countess Elizabeth Bathory’s purported crimes, hitting all the aspects that make this story so chilling and gripping in the first place-seductive villains! Vampirism! Creepy castles!-while introducing modern, urgent themes around social class.”
Why Michael’s excited about this book:
“This novel is a gothic and historical thriller that was inspired by a fascinating true story with which few people are familiar. Yes, there have been novels detailing the exploits of Elizabeth Bathory, but they tend to focus on the Countess herself, whereas my novel approaches the story from the perspective of a young woman who works in the castle as a seamstress. I loved researching the historical period in which this story takes place, and while writing the novel I drew on my love for both classic gothic texts of the nineteenth century, as well as Hammer Studio films from the 1960s and 1970s.”
Forthcoming from JournalStone 23 April 2021, A Still and Awful Red by Michael Howarth is available for pre-order now.