Monday, November 01, 2010

"The Countess"

I loved, loved, loved Rebecca Johns' "The Countess." Could not put it down loved it. Stayed up till 3 a.m. reading when I was already miserable and sick loved it.

It's a fictionalized tale of Countess Erzsebet Bathory of Hungary, thought of as a female Dracula whose most famous urban legend is that she bathed in the blood of young women she killed. The book doesn't get that graphic, but it weaves a fascinating tale of a woman we first meet as a young girl and want to like, but as events in her life change her, we start to mentally back away from liking her.
While I'm not a freak for historical fiction, I find that I like it best when it is about a strong woman and told from her point of view, when it takes me inside a life lived in circumstances I can't myself imagine. I'm going to check out Johns' first novel, "Icebergs," too, and I rarely do that.
And this one had a fascinating true-crime angle, too. It reminds me most of Zoe Heller's "What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal," which also tells us a story through a narrator that we first may like, but end up doubting and almost fearing.
"The Countess" isn't a horror novel -- indeed, some of the Amazon reviewers criticize it for not being gory enough -- but if you like historical fiction at all, you should give it a try.

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