Friday, February 01, 2013
First published: 2008
The Blurb: The legend of Erzsébet Báthory has captivated generations, but her true persona eludes many. She has been called the most renowned serial killer of her time, accused of torturing and murdering more than 600 people.
Conflicted, wanton, and sadistic in nature, was Elizabeth the result of generations of inbreeding? Was she a twisted byproduct of an archaic environment? Or was she merely a victim of a political conspiracy?
Travel back in time and explore her story, told in her own voice, and discover the many facets of Countess Erzsébet Báthory.
The Mention: The fact that this is getting a mention is indication enough that this does not go down the "Erzsébet Báthory: vampire" line and, whilst it certainly involves blood and a belief in magic and alchemy, there is little within that is fantastical (bar, perhaps, an astral projection potion that could have been hallucinatory in its effects).
The book does raise questions of its own historical veracity, were Báthory’s sisters raped and murdered (before her)? Did she suffer from epilepsy? Did she commit the crimes she was accused of? To be fair, the book is a first person fantasy and the author admits (in an afterword) that much was invented for dramatic impact. Nothing wrong with that though – not when it is a stated aspect of the book.
The book does perhaps stumble into a literary version of torture porn as it tries to capture the brutality and sadism of the age. However it was never anything that turned my stomach or shocked (but I am a veteran of both the Naked Lunch and American Psycho and this book nowhere near touches them). It does however make us sympathetic to a character who is drawn as a sadistic and, frankly, evil individual. She has no remorse (even protesting her innocence to the very end). A twist in the final pages that sits askew from recorded history ends an entertaining, somewhat short, sojourn into the 16/17th century.