Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Countess by Rebecca Johns

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary: Johns's creepily enticing second novel (after Icebergs) travels to 1611 Hungary as Countess Erzsébet Báthory--aka the Blood Countess--is being walled into a castle tower as punishment for the murder of dozens of women and girls. She 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. The steady, calm tone of Erzsébet's narration lulls the reader along so that the first hints of madness in her girlhood engender doubt and discomfort rather than horror, and as her lack of remorse and grandiose sense of entitlement are unveiled, a matter-of-fact self-portrait of a murderer emerges. This is a carefully researched story, gothic in tone and grimly atmospheric, with subtly handled psychology and an initially unassuming tone. Unlike most serial killer stories, this rewards patience and close reading. 

Review: The Countess by Rebecca Johns is about the life and times of Erzsebet Bathory who I will refer to as Elizabeth Bathory as it would be in English.  Elizabeth grew up in a noble house in the land of Hungary at an early age she was engaged to Ferenc Nadasdy and would one day be his wife which would make her a countess.  Elizabeth seemed to have what one would call a normal childhood but their were signs in her early life that she might have a nature that was psychopathic.

This book focuses on her early life and her middle years as its main context; including some of her young adult years and when she was in her forties/fifties which would have been considered her later years in this time in history.

Elizabeth Bathory as she gained her majority and became mistress of the house and after discovering her husband enjoyed such pursuits; whipped, starved, and humiliated dozens or more of her servant girls thinking that it was her right because she was of noble blood.  Her husband sometimes helped her in these activities and enjoyed it himself.  This woman was responsible for many deaths before she was caught and would eventually face her own last days.

It was scary in a way to see a woman who so loved her family; but in the same moment could turn around and beat a young girl to death for a minor infraction.  Its scary that they did not catch her for years and even then she was only punished by being shut up away from everyone; she got this type of punishment only because she was of noble blood.

It was a book that was hard to put down and it was interesting to look inside what may have gone on in the mind of someone who was so psychopathic.  I would definitely say that it is not for young teens and should only be read by mature audiences.  The author is a brilliant writer and I'd like to read more of her books.