Published by Harry N. Abrams on January 28, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror
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A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula
In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given, offered, or taken to alter the opinion forth with.
TRIGGER WARNING: Physical/emotional/domestic abuse, torture, manipulation
Honestly, I don’t think I actually knew what I was getting into when I requested this book. I mean, I thought I did but, boy, was I wrong. This book instantly pulled me in and as horrific as the following events grew to be, I couldn’t actually tear my eyes from the page.
This book is based off the historical Countess Elizabeth of Bathory and, until I read the description, I didn’t know she was the real life inspiration for Countess Dracula. That hooked me right then and there. What transpired next was the horrific process of Elizabeth drawing in our main character, Anna, first by offering pay beyond her wildest dreams then through a gradual process of manipulation. Only when Anna is manipulated and in way over her head, does Elizabeth reveal her true nature.
I did find this book quite gripping and it was something I could not stop myself from finishing, if only to see how in the world Anna was going to get out of the messy web Elizabeth had created. This book was quite gruesome, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to everyone but if you’re curious and it sounds like something you may like, give it a try.
As a reader, it was so frustrating (in a good way) to watch Anna believe nearly everything Elizabeth said or rationalize the questionable things she said/did. Elizabeth completely disgusted me, which I realize was the point and it was done very well. Just when you think Anna is about to triumph in some way, the author rips that possibility away.
To be totally honest, while I didn’t hate or love this book, if I had known how gruesome it really was I would have given it a pass.