My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In 17th 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.
-Lana Popovic, Author of Blood Countess
Sarvar, Hungary – May 8, 1575 The day our Lord Nadasdy weds the countess, the sky above us is the color of bleached bone.
It’s the late 1500’s and Anna Darvulia is a highly skilled healer in her Hungarian village, learning by her mother’s side how to tend to the ill with herbs gathered by moonlight. Anna has far exceeded even her mother’s great talent and comes to the attention of The Countess Elizabeth Bathory who has the uncanny talent of seeing into another’s soul and playing on their weakness and their secrets. All for her own despicable gain.
It’s no secret that Countess Elizabeth Bathory is known for her cruelty and unending quest for youth; she is known as the most vicious female serial killer in recorded history for a reason. Ms. Popovic takes this true account and weaves an emotionally taut story with Anna as the main character and explores a fictional version of one girls experience with the cruel and murderous Countess. Anna is a great protagonist, she is so clever and gifted but most of all, she loves her family beyond all things. The love of her family is what drives her to go work at the castle. At first, she is a lowly scullery maid, sleeping with the spiders and rats but when she strives to become more useful to Elizabeth her rank is elevated to the coveted role of chambermaid. As Anna becomes closer to Elizabeth it becomes harder to make excuses for her harsh and merciless treatment of others. Elizabeth is extremely well written, she is cruel and devious, yes, but there are glimpses of her that made me understand why Anna found it hard to find fault with her in the beginning.
The story is one of hope and despair but ultimately, it shows the strength of a young woman and her desire to care for her family and ultimately, herself. It is gorgeously written, incredibly rich and descriptive and it was an absolute joy to read.
A big thank you to NetGalley, Abrams Kids and Pique Beyond for providing me with Blood Countess by Lana Popovic to read and review!
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