Reviews of The King's Rose
"Libby's lush historical novel chronicles the intense period during which 15-year-old Catherine Howard became Henry VIII's fifth wife. Starting when the king disposed of his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, by annulment, and taking readers through the moment of Catherine's death for treason against the king, the story captures her powerlessness, despite her title. "You are little more than flesh and blood," her grandmother, the duchess of Norfolk, tells her. "You are the vessel by which the Howards lay claim to the greatest power we can wield." Catherine feels intense pressure to be the king's "rose without a thorn" and produce an heir, but she struggles under the weight of her own past and the machinations of her family: deceiving the king about her virginity, suppressing her love for one of the king's courtiers, Thomas, and contending with the arrival of a former lover and friends seeking positions in her court. The gripping story crackles with the anxiety of the young queen-her lack of control over her own life and desires will resonate most with readers. Ages 14-up." (Mar.)
— Publisher’s Weekly
"Romance novels often tell stories of women imprisoned by circumstance but whose hearts, and other parts, ache for true love. Here, that tormented soul is 15-year-old Catherine Howard, a vivacious young woman who catches the eye of the lusty, aging King Henry VIII and soon finds herself playing the part of his fifth wife, with strict orders to produce a male heir . . . or else. It's a perilous role. Henry's second wife, Catherine's cousin Anne Boleyn, was beheaded, and Anne's ghost haunts her with admonitions about the fickle king: "His tiny man-member wagged, and he followed it wherever it led him, destroying all that stood in his path...Do you think he will hesitate to destroy you?" The constant fear of retribution for her past and present sexual indiscretions taints Catherine's genuine pleasure in her newfound status, bejeweled gowns and other courtly extravagances, and this daily conflict is vividly, often poetically expressed in the queen's first-person voice. More drama than history, this suspenseful, downright racy tale will send readers hurtling headlong toward the novel's bitter end. (Fiction. 15 & up)"
— Kirkus Reviews
Reviews of The Blood Confession
"This gothic novel, set in sixteenth-century Hungary, is a young woman's dark search for power over her body and her life....The first-person narrative style gives a disturbingly human glimpse into Erzebet's character. Libby's unreliable narrator blurs the lines between reality and insanity, leaving the reader to choose the truth. Give this book to teens looking for something deep and long to bite into."
— Voices of Youth Advocates
"Alisa Libby leads us into an alluring world of beauty, greed, and temptation. Set in a castle in Hungary during the late 1500’s, young Erzebet wants more than anything to achieve eternal youth and beauty and she’ll go to great lengths to get it. Born on the day of a fallen star, Erzebet fears her fate is doomed and is willing to make bets with a dark stranger in order to attain a life ever after. Libby’s poetic descriptions and complete control of language make this a gripping read with a fairy tale flare. Carefully plotted with dark humor woven throughout, the message is clear and disturbingly relatable. A powerful and compelling first novel."
— Laurie Stolarz, author of Blue is for Nightmares
"This young-adult thriller tells the grievous tale of the infamous Countess Erzebet Bathory, a noblewoman of sixteenth-century Hungary whose notorious reputation for bathing in the blood of young maidens has forever sealed her dubious place in history....Compellingly told from the first person point of view, this lengthy historical fiction novel is written for teens, but entertains adults as well."
— Dark Realms, issue 24
"In 16th-century Hungary, a conceptually interesting... gothic horror unfolds. Erzebet (based on historical Countess Bathory) is the daughter of an austere count and mad countess. A prophecy foretelling either early death or eternal life haunts her childhood and drives her to seek control of her destiny through blood's sacred power. Libby's combination of history, fairy tales and the Bible is vivid... [A] suspenseful and creative final quarter ... reinvigorates the early fairy-tale theme."
— Kirkus Reviews
“Erzebet, based on a real-life Hungarian "blood countess," is an interesting character. She feels trapped and powerless in a world dominated by men, but soon learns that her beauty is a source of power. Readers will sympathize with her feelings of loneliness and abandonment, while being repulsed by her actions. The descriptions are mildly gruesome without being overly graphic or sensationalized. Even so, the book is not for the faint of heart.”
— School Library Journal