“Johns’ ability to mesmerize with words, to portray such vivid and heinous crimes with an unbiased compassion and passion is what lends perfection to this story,” Claudia suggests.
“We see a woman rather than a monster, first, which allows the reader access into what has become, undoubtably, one of the most bloody moments in history. Only towards the end – with Erzsébet’s fervent denial of any wrongdoing – are we openly invited to review what we know, and realize we’ve been hypnotized by Johns into (almost) accepting Erzsébet’s behavior as warranted discipline.
Therein lays the greatest horror of all. Human nature is fragile, and to be so close to such atrocities – apathetically, even, at times – is absolutely terrifying.
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A MUST-read for anyone interested in the Báthory story. From the very first page to the last, The Countess captivates, dominates and subjugates its readers with a twisted tale of love, murder, history and familial legacies not easily put from the mind after reading. Brilliantly horrible.”
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REBECCA JOHNS is an assistant professor of English at DePaul University and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first novel, Icebergs, was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Hemingway Award. The paperback edition of her latest novel, The Countess, is available wherever books are sold.
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