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The Countess: A Novel of Elizabeth Bathory

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  1,480 Ratings  ·  253 Reviews
Was the “Blood Countess” history’s first and perhaps worst female serial killer? Or did her accusers create a violent fiction in order to remove this beautiful, intelligent, ambitious foe from the male-dominated world of Hungarian politics?

In 1611, Countess Erzsébet Báthory, a powerful Hungarian noblewoman, stood helpless as masons walled her inside her castle tower, doomi
Paperback, 287 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Broadway Books (first published 2010)
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Nov 17, 2010 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read mostly literary writing, and this novel is no exception. So if you're expecting a gothic novel about vampires or a thriller about cold blooded murders, you'll probably be disappointed both by the book and by this review.

The Countess is a fictionalized memoir of a real life Hungarian countess who came to be known as "the blood countess" on account of the many murders of young servant girls attributed to her. She is also the likely prototype of the "evil stepmother" so frequently seen in al
Jan 20, 2011 Autumn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
The back cover copy promised depraved cruelty. The flap copy hinted at a dark and sadistic relationship. What I wanted was a tale of Bathory that offered an explanation for at least some of the bloodcurdling rumors that surround her name.

And when Erzsébet and her husband find the missing erotic spark to their marriage through her degrading and painful punishment of a servant girl, I thought the novel was on the right track. This is it, I thought, two sadists who meet and fall in love with each
eleonora -
Oct 19, 2011 eleonora - rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Mai giudicare un personaggio dalla copertina.
Già. Perché arrivo a tali momenti di superficialità anche io, che vi credete? La contessa nera non ha nulla a che fare con la modella in copertina: la contessa ha gli occhi e i capelli scuri, la modella ha i capelli rossi e gli occhi verdi... Perché non si sono impegnati a trovarne un'altra, vi chiederete? Non lo so. Queste cose di marketing non le capisco.
Ma non si ferma tutto qui, perché se faccio un discorso superficiale lo faccio perché ha un suo
K likes Tea
I was very excited to read this book about the Coutness Bathory of Hungary, often referred to as the first felmale serial killer. Having a Hungarian heritage, I was very earger to know the true story about the Countess and the many murders she was accused of. Well, this book did not satisfy my curiosity. This reads more like a historical romance than a murder mystery. Esterbet doesn't even kill her first victim till 200 pages into the novel! In the whole book, only a dozen pages or so even detai ...more
Roxanne Sukhan
This book tells the tale of a deeply flawed woman. Indeed, the interesting part of her narrating her own story seems, to me, her denial. She proves herself a rather unreliable narrator, focussing on the parts of her story she wishes to emphasize, minimizing those actions of hers that add up to her monstrosity. At the beginning of her story, one cannot help but empathize with Erzsebet. As the story unfolds, however, her claims of righteousness become more and more unbelievable. Having finished re ...more
Amanda Lila
2015 Reading Challenge: A BOOK BASED ON A TRUE STORY

The Countess tells the story of Erzsebet Bathory, a woman from a Hungarian noble family, who is often called Countess Dracula because of all the lives of young women she is said to have taken.

The book shows Erzsebet's life from nine years of age to fifty-four. At first, you can only see small glimpses of her ruthless character. Of course, since she is the one to tell the story she isn't quite a reliable character and tries to manipulate us int
Feb 06, 2011 C.W. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tackling the infamous Countess Elizabeth Bathory is no mean feat. Notorious for her alleged serial killing spree of over a hundred servant girls, in whose blood she supposedly bathed to retain her youth, doesn't exactly make for a sympathetic heroine. In Ms John's second novel THE COUNTESS, however, she attempts to do just that, rescuing the countess from the dark myth surrounding her to present a more balanced look of a strong but fettered young woman bartered into marriage for the sake of fami ...more
Apr 21, 2012 Daark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the author pretty much just read Tony Thorne's bio of Elizabeth Bathory, "Countess Dracula," and turned it into a fiction book (she even has the same trivial details as Thorne, such as list of food items brought in for a banquet). The portrayal of Bathory is the same old (new) portrayal we've been seeing in a recent spate of new movies, such as "The Countess" and "Bathory," in which the world's worst female serial killer is presented with this softer, gentler side, as if all of her crime ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Rachel rated it did not like it
The Countess: A Novel by Rebecca Johns is a novel about the life of Countess Erzsebet Bathory. Before I review the book let me give you some background information.

Most people don't know much about Countess Erzsebet Bathory. She was a Hungarian countess that lived from 1560-1614. She was accused of torturing and murdering hundreds of young virgin girls. There is evidence that she mistreated and killed many of her servants but most her crimes have probably been greatly exaggerated and made into a
I really enjoyed this one. Although historical fiction, many of the items are true to history (as we know it of course). I felt that the author did a great job giving us the background of the woman who would come to be known as Countess Dracula. I especially found the gypsy story at the beginning of the book interesting; although I don't know if it's true or not. If it is true then it shows that even as a young girl, she had a cruel streak. If not then the author cleverly inserted a little ficti ...more
"A Condessa" foi mais um daqueles livros que me chamou a atenção pela capa e somente depois pela sinopse. Contudo, esperava um livro diferente, mais brutal, mais negro, mais sangrento. Ainda assim, foi uma leitura agradável e da qual posso dizer que gostei.
Aquila Reale
Apr 16, 2016 Aquila Reale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“La contessa nera” è un romanzo che ho apprezzato, conquistata da una cover che coniuga alla perfezione mistero e inquietudine. La lettura è veloce, le torture vengono descritte con dovizia di particolari e la protagonista appare una donna violenta cresciuta nella violenza e sposata a un uomo violento. La contessa è un personaggio che affascina, sola e tradita reagisce nell’unico modo che conosce, con violenza.

Recensione completa su
Jun 06, 2012 Eileen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have always been interested in the story of the Countess Bathory so when i saw this book I just had to buy it. It started off slow but as soon as I was about to loose interest the story begins to pick up and even get a little juicy. In a weird it was kind of like reading about the latest gossip but not really. Its hard to describe the feeling I had when I read certain sections. Rebecca Johns makes the book a smooth read although I can not say that I was not disappointed in the por
Oct 17, 2010 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I went to high school with the author!

The Countess: A Novel tells the tale of Erzsébet Báthory, the Blood Countess, of Hungary. I had never heard of the countess, so I was eager to read this book. I seem to have a fascination for evil people and what makes them tick. And, with a moniker like the "Blood Countess" I was anticipating some True Blood type antics throughout the novel. While I am not a sadist or masochist, I enjoy reading about the cruelties humans perpetrate upon each other.

I truly
Feb 28, 2013 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novels with unreliable narrators are always a puzzle. Is the storyteller crazy, or lying, or both? The truth is somewhere in there, but where? The story begins with Elizabeth imprisoned in a tower for the murders of dozens of young female servants. But is she guilty? Elizabeth tells her life story through her letters to her son. At first, Elizabeth seems like a sane, normal woman under an unusual amount of pressure. Singlehandedly managing half a dozen estates while your husband is away fighting ...more
Carla Faleiro
"A mulher que inspirou Drácula..." Foi esta frase que me atraiu para a leitura deste livro!
A relação entre Drácula e a Condessa? Na minha opinião é absolutamente nenhuma!! Falam-nos de uma assassina em série...Erzsébet Báthory castigava severamente as suas criadas quando estas roubavam ou tinham relações sem serem casadas, algumas eram tão severamente castigadas que entravam em coma e acabavam por morrer. Naquele tempo eram normais os catigos aplicados pelos grandes senhores aos seus criados.
Meh. Still looking for a good novel about The Countess of Bathory. This one is told in first person and while well-written (dialog, etc), it starts with her early childhood and then as it progresses into her adulthood, it inexplicably covers about 25 years in just a couple of pages. All of her middle years are really skipped, with just a small mention of her children being born.

Now, as to her supposed atrocities, they are pretty much glossed over until the end of the novel....kind of written in
Read It Forward
Nov 18, 2010 Read It Forward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a fascinating, page-turning novel. I didn't know about Countess Erzsébet Báthory before reading Rebecca Johns' novel - what a fascinating (terrifying!) woman. This is unlike any historical fiction I've read before - it's keeping me up at night! Can't wait to finish it.
Apr 05, 2016 Theresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 4.5 stars but rounding up to 5

I'm trying to be very fair in this review, but it's hard when you absolutely are enthralled with the subject of the book you've just read. I'm trying to separate my enjoyment of anything with an Eastern European historical setting and the actual book. I think it's only fair that this book be graded on the same level as others I read. So with that in mind I have cut it some some slack in a couple of areas. There was a minor error in a pronunciation key
May 29, 2015 Ema rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nunca tinha ouvido falar da "Condessa Drácula" até ter recebido este livro de presente, que nos conta a sua história romanceada. Pela sinopse sabemos que a Condessa foi uma assassina, mas não foi assim que comecei a olhar para ela. Apesar de saber que ela se encontra enclausurada devido aos crimes que cometeu, o facto de ela começar a contar a sua história desde criança faz com que tivesse inicialmente olhado para ela com alguma ternura e compaixão. Mas à medida que a vida da condessa avança, co ...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
3.5 out of 5

Erzsébet (or the Anglicized "Elizabeth") Báthory is as widely vilified and infamous as far as she is known today. The scandal of a noblewoman killing servants in order to live forever as one myth goes, or to punish them as an assertion of power as this novel posits, is guaranteed to garner attention, as much now as it was back then. While prevalent modern-day historical opinion believes her to be largely innocent of the horrendous charges leveled against her (both in her time and aft
Ho iniziato a leggere il libro con parecchia curiosità per le vicende di questa nobildonna ungherese. A metà ne ero parecchio soddisfatta. Alla fine non so più se e quanto questo libro mi sia piaciuto. Umh.

La contessa nera è senza dubbio un libro scritto bene, e la pregevolezza della scrittura rimane l'unica costante che accompagna il lettore dalla prima all'ultima pagina. Erzsébet Bàthory è definita dalle cronache come la più cruenta serial killer della storia. Sadica, crudele, senza scrupoli,
Nov 09, 2011 Marcie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Countess by Rebecca Johns details the life of Countess Erzsebet Bathory. It is rumored that in Erzsebet Bathory's lifetime she killed more than 600 girls. Some allegations are more heinous that others. Some believe this was all a way to bring down a powerful woman. Rebecca Johns sifts through the details of Bathory's life in this interesting novel.

This novel takes the form a journal that Bathory wrote in prison documenting the details of her life so that her son may know the truth of her im
Oct 16, 2013 Scrittevolmente rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un bel romanzo che però non c’entra niente con la storia di cui pretende di parlare.
E chiunque abbia scritto il trafiletto di trama lassù probabilmente questo libro non lo ha neanche aperto.
Siamo di fronte all’opera scritta da Rebecca Johns nel 2010, che narra delle vicende di Erzsébet Bàthory – di solito occidentalizzato in Elizabeth Bathory – personaggio realmente esistito e famoso per la sua crudeltà. Per chi non conoscesse il soggetto in causa basta andarsi a fare un giro su Wikipedia per fa
Nov 18, 2010 Tonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
This book was excellently written. Rebecca Johns did a wonderful job with Countess Erzsebet Bathory. I found myself feeling sorry for her and her plight of being accused of crueltly to her help, even though she was indeed very cruel.

It is amazing how marriages were arranged and girls VERY young were sent off to be a part of someone else's family, even if you weren't really a match. The Countess did what she had to go she thought to keep her household running.

The descriptions in the book of the
Oct 25, 2011 Bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Countess: A Novel of Elizabeth Bathory was a creepy read that left me feeling unsettled.
The book is based on the real life of Hungarian Countess Erzsébet Báthory who was also known as the Blood Countess. Erzsébet who was an educated and wealthy woman who came from noble blood, is known as one of the most famous female serial killers in history.

The story starts in 1611 when Erzsébet is imprisoned in a tower in Hungary for her crimes. She is sentenced to live the remainder of her life in this
Sep 05, 2013 Elli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Countess by Rebecca Johns. 3.5 actually. It's the story of Elisabeth Bartoldy told through her own eyes as a memoir, being bricked up in a tower of one of her own castles and told she would not leave alive. This was based on 3 books of her and the period itself. One was about aristocratic children in the beginning of the early modern era in Hungary, how they were raised, what was expected of them, and how they were supposed to live their lives, and cruelty to serfs was not illegal. It was co ...more
Sep 13, 2011 Lya06 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Qui la recensione completa:

La contessa nera è un libro che mi è piaciuto molto poiché come ho giá detto, sono un’appassionata di biografie romanzate e questa è davvero ben fatta, sono davvero rimasta soddisfatta a conclusione della lettura, tra l’altro molto veloce visto che volevo assolutamente sapere cosa sarebbe accaduto e come sarebbe finito.
Lo sviluppo della storia, sotto forma di diario- lettera, è articolato in modo da rendere il tutto molto vivace
Amy L. Campbell
Note: this review pertains to an Advance Reader Copy and may not coincide completely with the final printing.

Johns spent so much time making Countess Bathory human that I wasn't convinced that anger, entitlement, and abandonment/trust issues were enough to make her snap and commit the atrocities she did. While Bathory did seem to exhibit quite a few signs of megalomania, I didn't see enough other mental illness or cruelty that would indicate she was capable of torturing and killing her servants,
Apr 15, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really well written book about Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory. Painted by some historians as a bloodthirsty woman, feasting on peasant folk's blood for her youth, this has been widely exaggerated and untrue.

My first exposure to Elizabeth Bathory was a horrible book I read years ago that did not use any references/bibliographies and capitalized on the shock value of a Hungarian woman of means slaughtering fair maidens in blood baths. It was so outlandish and lacked depth, I larg
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Free Books, .99 &...: Rebecca John's The Countess 1 7 Oct 10, 2011 07:58AM  
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Rebecca Johns is the author of two novels, Icebergs (Bloomsbury USA, 2006), which was a PEN/Hemingway Finalist, and The Countess (Crown 2010), which has been translated around the world. Her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, the Mississippi Review, and Narrative, and numerous commercial magazines and newspapers such as Bride's, Cosmopolitan, Fitness, Mademoiselle, Self, Seventeen and Woman's D ...more
More about Rebecca Johns...

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