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The Countess

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  2,137 ratings  ·  316 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, doom
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Crown (first published 2010)
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Tristan Robin Blakeman Yes - though a very young reader might not be able to grasp the nuances of arranged marriages and the implied requirement that a male heir be produced…moreYes - though a very young reader might not be able to grasp the nuances of arranged marriages and the implied requirement that a male heir be produced by the bride.(less)

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Average rating 3.50  · 
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 ·  2,137 ratings  ·  316 reviews

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Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 06, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Amanda Lila
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it

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 into thinking her as a peaceful and innocent women doin
Nov 06, 2010 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
Rukhsana  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
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Apr 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
ale ♡
I could read it over and over again and it would be amazing, just like the first time.
Patrícia Braz
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.7 stars
Jun 06, 2012 rated it liked it

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
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Some of you may know of the Blood Countess or the Countess Dracula, the most prolific female serial killer of all time. Born in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1560, she was accused of killing hundreds of young women and some accounts say she murdered up to 650 victims.

When she was eventually caught and faced trial in 1609, she was walled up in a tower in solitary confinement until her death five years later in 1614. It was said Bathory bathed in the blood of her victims to preserve her beauty, but wh
Oct 13, 2010 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
Kiesha ~ 1Cheekylass
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
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
Erzsébet Báthory the "Blood Countess" tells her story, writing to her only son in an attempt to reveal the truth behind her downfall. In 1611, masons walled her inside her castle tower, to spend her final years in solitary confinement.

At a young age, her mother arranges her marriage to Ferenc Nádasdy,
she finally has a connection with Ferenc through the violent punishment of an insolent female servant.

Murders are made to seem as mere punishments for servants that steal, lie, are disobedient and
Read It Forward
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually don't read period pieces but I loved every second of this! Love the language of the author and the way the characters are brought to life.
Alexandra Alexyna
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
We all have heard of the infamous Countess Erzsebet Bathory, known as the vampire woman, who had killed girls to bathe in their blood to stay young.
But this book presents in a different way the story of Countess Bathory:
Imprisoned in the fortress of Csethe Erzsebet, she tells her son Pal her story from the presentation of her parents to her loading into her own castle at the order of the palatine Thurzo, accused of killing hundreds of maids in her fields. The book seems well documented historica
Annalisa Grate
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it
It was good, a nice idea of what might be the truth according to the Blood Countess. But it was a little bit drawn out. Overall a decent read for relaxing.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, own-owned, adult
2nd book drawn and read from my Book Jar.

On the back of the book, a critic writes that Rebecca Johns manages to make the reader sympathetic to the Countess's story and she does just that. Written from the Countess's point of view, we see a different side to the famous woman history has known her as 'The Blood Countess'. Not once has the Countess mentioned how she wanted to remain youthful and planned to do so by bathing in the blood of her victims. It was an interesting read to see a different
Nov 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, horror
See my other reviews at Never Enough Books

In 1611, Countess Erzsébet Báthory, stands helpless as masons walled her inside her castle tower. She is to spend her final years in solitary confinement for her crime – the gruesome murders of dozens of female servants. She claims she was only disciplining them but her opponents paint her as a bloodthirsty witch.

Her only recourse is to tell her story in her own words; a feat she does by writing to her young son. She recounts her childhood and her love f
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,
The Badger
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From a previous review: Of course there were many political motives at play! Before condemning Bathory, Thurzo tried to marry her! The Bathory lands were critical to a ruler intent on expanding the territory (i.e., a male ruler). Yes, I do believe that Bathory did in fact indulge in cruelty towards her servants (a practice not uncommon to nobility), and that she DID cross into torture for the purpose of rejuvenation. To what extent is difficult to say, but by all accounts she was terrified of ag ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was ok

Which means I will be discussing various details that are NOT #SPOILERFREE

Okay, so I found this book via Goodreads Deals a couple of months ago and the synopsis sounded vaguely interesting and something akin to "The horror of the serial murders by the Countess Bathory told in her own words...Were the serial murders all just made up to force a woman out of her political holdings " I love historical fiction writing (think Phillippa Gregory) where actual facts have been researched but are so entwin
Dec 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crap
Uuugh. Enough about your wardrobe. Get to killing...

Look, I'm not a monster. I don't feel particularly robbed that this book contained no gruesome accounts of anyone bathing in anyone else's blood. But I really do feel that if you're going to propose that protagonist's icy, distant husband finally falls in lust with her over a spot of good old-fashioned maid-torture, as an author you AT LEAST owe me some kinky bedroom stuff. MINIMUM. Instead, I get wedding guest lists and accounts of menus. How
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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

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