Antonia Douro

Overbearing Woman Who Asked for It

Countess Dracula: The Life and Times of Elisabeth Bathory, The Blood Countess

By

Bloomsbury 288pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Elisabeth Bathory, a seventeenth-century Hungarian magnate, was accused of torture, serial killing and witchcraft: accused that is, but never tried. Her story was hushed up in such a way as to make it one of the crucial sources for the archetypal mythology of the vampire. This book, Tony Thorne promises, is for ‘the vampire enthusiast, the armchair time-traveller, amateur detective and the simply curious’. He should have added, ‘and skip chapter two if you are of the faint-hearted’. In the interests of authenticity (one hopes) we are treated to a seemingly unexpurgated chapter of confessions, testimonies and accusations, mostly extorted under torture (which sort and whose common practice are painfully explained). This part is not the ‘Sublime of Terror’ (central to gothic fiction) but a courtroom transcript of evidence given in a trial of alleged inhuman crimes. That these accusations are brilliantly deconstructed and eventually debunked does nothing for the dismay with which this reader read them.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,