Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reading Event, TODAY!

Rebecca Johns, author of The Countess

In January 1611, one of the highest-born members of the Hungarian nobility, Countess Erzsebet Bathory, was walled inside her castle tower and imprisoned for the rest of her life. Her crime: the brutal torture and murder of at least 35 women and girls, mostly servants in the countess’s employ. Nicknamed the “Blood Countess,” Bathory is the first and one of the most prolific female serial killers in history. While her story is horrific, her legend has nevertheless persisted in the popular imagination—inspiring a well-established cult following intrigued by her strange gothic legacy. 

The real-life countess was one of Bram Stoker’s two inspirations for Dracula, and her character has appeared in film, video games, classic and contemporary literature, and was even referenced on a recent episode of True Blood.
Rebecca JohnsThe Countess re-creates Bathory’s story in her own words, detailing how this daughter of a noble family is betrothed at age ten but rebels against her mother-in-law by bearing an illegitimate child. She is forced to marry Count Nadasdy, a man she barely knows, and resorts to spells and potions to give him a child. While the Count toils on the battlefield, the Countess wages a constant war in her household, relying on strict discipline and severe punishments to keep her servants in line. After the count’s death she conducts an ardent love affair with the man who would eventually imprison her. After he spurns her love she turns to the vicious torture and murder of her servants. The Countess offers an intimate, strangely sympathetic, and ultimately disturbing portrait of one of the most reviled women in history—a woman who was capable of gruesome acts of torture, but also intensely passionate love.
Author bio: 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.

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