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The Countess by Rebecca Johns

The Countess (2010)

by Rebecca Johns

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Some of you may know of the Blood Countess or the Countess Dracula, the most prolific female serial killer of all time. Born in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1560, she was accused of killing hundreds of young women and some accounts say she murdered up to 650 victims.

When she was eventually caught and faced trial in 1609, she was walled up in a tower in solitary confinement until her death five years later in 1614. It was said Bathory bathed in the blood of her victims to preserve her beauty, but where does fact end and folklore begin?

Author Rebecca Johns attempts to address this in her fictionalised account of Elizabeth Bathory's life in her historical novel The Countess.

Johns takes us through Bathory's childhood growing up in a noble family in 16th Century Hungary, and walks us through her life in a first person narrative. We see her mature from a young girl and face fear, self-doubt, loneliness, love, heartbreak, loss, grief, anger and frustration.

Johns paints a clear picture of the responsibilities of a Countess to run several households and the disappointment and betrayal Bathory feels when her maidservants steal from her or sleep with her husband. Bathory beats them and many of them die, and we get a unique insight during all of this with privileged access to her - albeit fictionalised - thoughts.

What The Countess doesn't do (and cannot do) is respond to, answer or address the accusations Bathory ever bathed in blood. Many of these myths and accounts of Bathory occurred long after her death and it's difficult to address in a fictionalised account of an historical figure, but perhaps this could have been accomplished by a Author's Note at the end.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory's life and crimes have inspired countless artists to reference her in novels, comics, stage plays, operas, songs, TV shows, movies, and even video games. (Don't believe me? Check it out on Wikipedia).

I enjoyed this account of Bathory's life in The Countess, but I finished reading it with a feeling her crimes had been blown out of all proportion, and she wasn't the devil incarnate. Perhaps that was the point all along. ( )
  Carpe_Librum | Jan 11, 2017 |
This is a very well-written book, describing in great detail the treatment of household servants in the courts of the rich landholders of Hungary. While feeling sympathy for Countess Elizabeth in her early years, her later ones that are full of rage and jealousy incorporate a feeling of justification for the ways in which she beats and humiliates the young girls who come to her for being trained. Many parallels can be drawn between the view of servants in this book and the attitudes towards slaves in the American South. ( )
  threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
Fascinating read, which proved very informative even if in a fictional characterization of an insane woman trying to justify her incessant appetite for murder. It gave me a better insight on how Erzsebet Bathory might have regarded her demons. ( )
  josmith16 | May 27, 2015 |
This biography of the Countess Bathory was a fantastic novel, a wonderful first person description of a descent into madness. At first, I wondered why the book was skipping over the deaths - then I realized they were being skipped over because in her eyes they were barely worth mentioning - and then as she descended into madness, it all started to come into focus - she was laying blame, her mind poisoned, her status as narrator became more and more unreliable, and, in the end, the book told the tale exactly as it should have been told. It is well-written and quite effective. ( )
  VincentDarlage | Jan 30, 2015 |
*****This was a GoodReads Giveaway Win!*********

Wow! This was a very interesting book. I feel like the author gave an edited view about the life of Elizabeth Bathory. But what a view it was. The style of writing had me in the 1600's. This is a very good book to read, well worth the trouble to find a copy to read.

The author take the reader though the life of Elizabeth Bathory, a Countess in the late 1500's to early 1600's. According to history this was the Blood Countess.

Thanks to the author Rebecca John's for sending me an autographed copy of this book. ( )
  kybunnies | Oct 19, 2014 |
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1611 Hungary. Countess Erzsébet Báthory (aka the Blood Countess), being walled into a castle tower as punishment for the murder of dozens of women and girls, begins writing her life story as an exposé of the many betrayals that have brought about this--as she sees it--outrageous and unjust imprisonment.… (more)

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