The Countess: A Novel

  • by Rebecca Johns
  • Narrated by Leslie Bellair
  • 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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, dooming her to spend her final years in solitary confinement. Her crime: the gruesome murders of dozens of female servants, mostly young girls tortured to death for displeasing their ruthless mistress. Her opponents painted her as a bloodthirsty škrata - a witch - a portrayal that would expand to grotesque proportions through the centuries.
In this riveting dramatization of Erzsébet Báthory's life, the countess tells her story in her own words, writing to her only son - a final reckoning from his mother in an attempt to reveal the truth behind her downfall. Countess Báthory describes her upbringing in one of the most powerful noble houses in Hungary, recounting in loving detail her devotion to her parents and siblings as well as the heartbreak of losing her father at a young age. She soon discovers the price of being a woman in 16th-century Hungary as her mother arranges her marriage to Ferenc Nádasdy, a union made with the cold calculation of a financial transaction. Young Erzsébet knows she has no choice but to accept this marriage even as she laments its loveless nature and ultimately turns to the illicit affections of another man.
Seemingly resigned to a marriage of convenience and a life of surreptitious pleasure, the countess surprises even herself as she ignites a marital spark with Ferenc through the most unromantic of acts: the violent punishment of an insolent female servant. The event shows Ferenc that his wife is no trophy but rather a strong, determined woman more than capable of managing their vast estates during Ferenc's extensive military campaigns against the Turks. Her naked assertion of power accomplishes what her famed beauty could not: capturing the love of her husband.
The countess embraces this new role of loving wife and mother, doing everything she can to expand her husband's power and secure her family's future. But a darker side surfaces as Countess Báthory's demand for virtue, obedience, and, above all, respect from her servants takes a sinister turn. What emerges is not only a disturbing, unflinching portrait of the deeds that gave Báthory the moniker "Blood Countess", but an intimate look at the woman who became a monster.


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Most Helpful

Countess Dracula

Would you consider the audio edition of The Countess: A Novel to be better than the print version?

Yes, due to the narrators skill.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Countess: A Novel?

The event that eventually bonded her with her husband

What does Leslie Bellair bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Great story voice and distinguishable accents/tones

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?


Any additional comments?

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 fiction to show that she didn't just wake up one day and decided to be a cruel, tormenting psycho.

One almost has to wonder if the author is sympathetic to Elizabeth but I don't think she is. I believe she is simply telling us the story from Elizabeth's POV. Elizabeth didn't think that she was wrong, she thought that what she was doing was within her right. I think a lot of people expect blood and gore, and it is mentioned but not in great detail for the most part. Honestly, I preferred it this way; the stories that were elaborated upon were bad enough.

I will say this, while I think that what was said of her is 100% true, I believe that those who finally decided to persecute her did it for political reasons and personal gain. The stories about her cruelties had been told for years yet there was no action taken. Not only did the King/Royal Family owe her money, her estates were noteworthy. Really interesting story and I recommend it to anyone who loves fiction and/or history. I wish that it was longer.

The narrator was outstanding. I really enjoyed her reading voice and accents.

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- The Duchess

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-15-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios