As far as historical novels go...it was intriguing and full of rich details. I have it 3 stars because given the stories I’ve read of the countess...I was expecting a story that focuses more on her almost vampire like tendencies bathing in the blood. This book did talk about the killings...but just kinda glossed over them and focused on other aspects of her life. I would hardly call this a ‘chilling tale’ as a review on the cover states. It’s good enough...but not what I was hoping for.
Interesting story, she was certainly a little "touched in the head" and her end was appropriate but she was a horrific person, she would be considered a sexual predator and a sadist in this day and age. It makes me wonder if there was some schizophrenia going on. She was definitely a very sick woman, in this day and age she would be medicated and hospitalized I would hope.
This book caught my interest because unlike the others I’ve read about her, it was told from her point of view, slightly softening you to the disdain you’d feel when reading accounts told from the perspective of her victims.
While I am not on her side, I can see how she turned into such a murderess women. Her life was one tragedy after another, thus causing her to have a complete lack of empathy for other people. She is portrayed to genuinely believe the “punishments” she was giving were merited and completely justified. Her view of humanity was incredibly skewed.
Interesting story. How an educated woman went from just punishing her servants to killing them. You are almost sympathetic to her while reading, most of the rest of her life is normal, but the punishments.... won't be sorry you read this. This is not a gory book for those of you squeamish.
This has got to be one of my favorite historical fiction novels of all time. It is incredibly well written, and walks the fine line between fact and author's imagination with balance and grace. Highly recommended!
Rebecca John's carefully crafted a wonderful story of what the Countess Bathory could have been like. The political, regional, and historic are brought together without the sensationalized legends of the horror stories.
The Countess fuses biography with storytelling, recounting the real life history of a disturbing woman. Those unfamiliar with Countess Bathory will especially enjoy this retelling of her life, yet the author adds enough with her selection of events and prose to create a compelling read for those of us who have read other Bathory novels.
Erzsébet Báthory was a powerful countess in 17th century Hungary. She and her husband own and rule a significant number of regions. With her husband away at war, this gives her enormous power over not only the servants in her castle but the people who live in the countryside. Just imagine what such power would mean in the hands of a psychopath driven - by mysterious reasons - to kill again and again.
She murdered mostly young girls, which has fueled bizarre rumors of her motives; namely that she later bathed in their blood to steal their beauty. Yet this book keeps us away from the strange fictionalization of her aftermath and sticks to the elements for which there is significant evidence. Her murders appear to have been fueled by fits of rage and strange inexplicable sadism.
This book explores her childhood and marriage, teasing out events that might have sparked Erzsébet's violence. As someone familiar with historical research on the matter, I can say that the author stays clear from legend and sticks to events which likely happened. This book strikes a balance between a cold retelling of the few events we can prove and fanciful strays into pure myth. The result is historical, compelling, and literary.
This book perfectly treads that line of horror without gore. Those reviewers disappointed with the lack of horror are probably more used to that genre than I. If you, like me, are fascinated with violence but squirmed at the graphic retellings in American Psycho, you will find this book has just the right level of descriptiveness for the subject matter.
I read a lot of books, and it is a rare event that a book so consumes me that I can't stop reading. The fact that this author managed to captivate me with a story I already knew should tell you just how compelling and well-written it is.
Rebecca Johns has pulled off a true narrative feat in this beautifully written, haunting story of 16th century Hungary: she has created in her imagining of Ersebet Bathory a character who is sympathetic (if not always likable) even as she grows increasingly paranoid and violent.
As other readers have mentioned, the descriptions of the landscape, clothing, food, and other aspects of life among the nobility in the book's setting and era are vivid and engrossing. But it was the complex and nuanced portrait that Johns drew of the Countess, and the voice she gave her, that were the most satisfying part of this all-around satisfying read.