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Works by Kimberly L. Craft

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This biography of Erzsébet Báthory reveals one of the most evil women in history. No, she’s not the vampire that many suggested her to be during the centuries when superstition often blinded people from reason, but it’s fair to say that she was a demon in human form.

Along with a small number of helpers, the “noble” countess committed crimes of a horrific nature, invariably against girls aged from 10-14 years old. One abominable example is the cutting off of girls’ hands with scissors.

All this took place in the late 1500s/early 1600s when diabolical methods of torture were not uncommon. I’ve heard of many horrors that occurred in England and France but this account of Hungarian history introduced another type that seems unimaginable, namely sewing people inside a horse but leaving their head free. I’m sure most people of today would be at a loss to try picturing something so barbaric, never mind watching it, but here’s a quote that shows Erzsébet Báthory’s response to witnessing such inhumane treatment:

“Upon seeing the gypsy stuffed and sewn into the horse’s belly, his head sticking out of the animal’s body, Erzsébet found herself giggling at the bizarre spectacle.”

How the evil countess and her cohorts got away with so many cruelties towards so many young girls for so long a period is shocking. The main reasons seem to be her position in society, the period in history, the remote location, the fear Erzsébet Báthory injected into people, but also because others didn’t care enough to act.

This is a biography one reads with a morbid fascination. The information is limited, which is hardly surprising. I found parts of the narrative somewhat tedious, as certain info was repeated, while other segments proved over-exhaustive.

The style also detracted me at times, owing to long-winded sentences held together by semicolons and colons, most of which could’ve been replaced with full stops to create shorter sentences and a smoother read.

There’s no excuse for the most common fault I see in grammar in general, namely inserting an apostrophe between the “0” and “s” when relating to decades, such as writing “1590’s” instead of “1590s”. This isn’t the first published work that I’ve seen make this most common of errors but it’s unusual to see it occur in a biography.

Anyway, although I’ve rated this book 3 stars, I commend the author for the amount of time and research she’s put into this grisly topic. No doubt the lack of evidence will have made the job a difficult one.
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PhilSyphe | 3 other reviews | Oct 27, 2015 |
Craft herself, in her introduction, states that this collection of letters is intended to serve as a supplement to her text Infamous Lady. For those, like myself, who have not read her book, Craft provides a brief synopsis, and then jumps into the translated letters of Countess Báthory. I purchased the book in the interest of gaining insight into a feared historical figure, but with no preconceived notions - I was not looking for a gory confession, but had an inkling that a sympathetic scholar may try to salvage her reputation in some way. The body of material Craft has to work with is distressingly small, which is no fault to her - most of Countess Báthory's letters have been lost or destroyed, so the body of evidence is slim.

Ultimately, though, this volume is less a text of Báthory's, and more a text of Craft's; the points of interpretations and analysis suffocate the letters, and casts shadows of doubt on the translations themselves. The text does not well represent Báthory's voice, but rather uses the voice Craft has constructed for the historical figure. Craft's presence in the text detracts from the interest, and ultimately the book fails to be truly a collection of private letters, and is instead another analysis of Countess Erzsébet Báthory.
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London_StJ | 2 other reviews | Jun 25, 2014 |
This was a very detailed, informative book on private letters of Countess Erzsebet Bathory. I did not read the author's first book. This is a follow up to the Infamous Lady. Sadly, my library does not have a copy of that book, so definitely excited to have won a copy of this one.
Even if you never read The Infamous Lady, the author included a short biography of a few pages before staring the book.
It was pretty amazing to be reading translated letters from the early 1600s. Fascinating stuff! The author had really done her research.
I do think I definitely would have enjoyed this book even more if I had known or read a bit more on the Countess, but it was a great introduction for me.
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melaniehope | 2 other reviews | Jul 18, 2011 |
From the moment I finished reading the author's first book,:Infamous Lady: The True Story of Countess Erzsébet Báthory, I was eagerly anticipating her next one. I would have simply been appeased with any sort of additional information or supplementation about Countess Elizabeth Bathory, but this book totally exceeded my expectations! It is a historically rich and compelling work that gives readers a look inside the "everyday" life, and possible state-of-mind, of one of history's most legendary and enigmatic women. Through careful research and painstaking translation of actual letters written by the Countess herself, Prof. Craft has shed new light on the circumstances and political intrigues which surrounded Bathory during the time frame in which she had allegedly committed some of history's most heinous crimes, pegging her as one of the "world's worst serial killers". This book reveals a very different side of the Countess; it is not that of an insane, blood-lusty, murderess, but rather, it is that of a strong noblewoman with oppressing odds working against her as she desperately tries to maintain order of her estates and protection of her villages in a time of political and papal chaos; it is the side of a widow and a mother, who is tired and, at times seemingly defeated, reaching out for help and guidance. This companion to "Infamous Lady" is an excellent "mini" biography of Countess Bathory. It is well written and easy to understand, enjoyable for both the history novice and advanced enthusiast alike, a must-have for history buffs and those interested in the life of Countess Bathory as well as those interested in forensic psychology and the criminal mind.… (more)
 
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Liz_Carrington | 2 other reviews | May 2, 2011 |

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