10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
For Historical Fiction Fans, not Vampire or Horror Fiction Fans
, December 15, 2010
The blood-red book cover of Rebecca John's The Countess reveals a dangling arm hanging off of a bed (or a tomb?). But this book is not the account of a vampire, and it's not a book filled with gruesome bloodbaths or torture sessions - and that's not a bad thing. If you love historical novels, then you are sure to enjoy the delightfully disturbing rendition of the horrific life that was Erzsebet Bathory, the Countess of Hungary in the late 16th Century. Countess Bathory was accused of killing 612 of her own maidservants before she was walled up in a prison in Csejte Castle for the remaining four years of her life - a fitting end for a horrifically evil woman. Yet Johns crafts a riveting first-person narrative of Bathory as she writes letters to her grandson from jail, claiming that she was innocent, that the accusations were mere politics.
Writing from the perspective of an accused prolific female serial killer of the 16th Century is certainly nothing less than twisted, and Rebecca Johns delivers Bathory's evil story in a way that almost convinces readers of her innocence - almost. With offhand remarks about not understanding the emotional pain of her maidservants or realizing the shallowness of her cruel morality, Johns shocks the audience with a quiet, sinister subtlety that is the fictionalized voice of Bathory.
Fans of historical fiction will admire John's adherence to the original spellings, locations, and events surrounding Countess Bathory's life, and particularly the skillful use of language that Johns employs, giving the narrative an authentic feel. For those that are looking for gory details though - you'll only find a select few instances. This is, after all, the telling from Bathory's perspective, of a woman that believes she has done no harm.