Author: Lana Popovic
Publication Date: 28 January 2020
Genre: YA Horror
A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula
In 16th 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.
When I first got wind of a retelling of the infamous Countess Elizabeth Báthory, I squealed. I love all things vampire related so anything about Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Báthory, I NEED in my life. Up until now, I hadn’t read any retellings, so I was dying to get my hands on a copy of Blood Countess.
Blood Countess follows the story of Anna Darvulia, a poor village girl gifted with healing, who dreams of working for the illustrious Countess Elizabeth following a chance opportunity to assist Elizabeth in a personal matter. Following the death of her abusive father, Anna leaves home in hopes to work as a chambermaid to Elizabeth so that her salary can keep her family from starvation. Once Anna settles into the palace, she quickly learns of Elizabeth’s sadistic tendencies and torturous punishments for the smallest of offenses. Anna must find a way to stay loyal to Elizabeth and curb her treacherous ways before the body count starts piling up.
First thing, if you have trouble with gory scenes, skip this book because Popovic does not shy away from the horrific things that Elizabeth decides to carry out on a whim. To say that Elizabeth is sadistic and disturbed in an absolute understatement. I thought that Popovic did a brilliant job of creating a character that started off as someone you could enjoy, maybe even love (as in the case of Anna) and let that person’s true, treacherous persona seep to the surface until any sense of morality was destroyed. Loved it.
I loved that the Anna that you start with in this book is NOT the Anna who ends in this book. Her character arc was definitely my favorite. You see a teenage girl full of hope and innocence who just wants to pursue a life for herself and to please Elizabeth. Anna starts out as so naive and trusting. Every time one of Elizabeth torture games becomes more depraved than the next, a piece inside Anna awakens to the horrific reality that she has shackled herself to.
I found this story to be fast past and gripping. Coming in around 300 pages, there’s no filler chapters or extra fluff to propel the story forward. Overall, I think this was a great start to the Lady Slayers series, and I can’t wait to see where Anna’s story ends up next.
Thank you to @PiqueBeyond (ABRAMS) for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.