Monday, January 27, 2020

Review: Blood Countess by Lana Popović

Title: Blood Countess
Author: Lana Popović
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: January 28th 2020
Source: Netgalley/Amulet Books

Book Description:

A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula

In 17th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Bathory. 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.



I absolutely adored this book. I am 100% the target audience that this book was aiming for. I don't know what exactly that says about me, but, here we are. I went through a phase in junior high and high school where I was consumed by the history of Elizabeth Bathory. I did a big end of year paper on her, read countless books (both fiction and non-fiction), and soaked it all up.

The fact that this historical legend has been turned into not only a young adult book, but one that has a romance (sort of) and an LGBT one on top of that, makes my heart happy.

But, don't get me wrong. This isn't a happy story. Bathory is believed to be one of the most prolific serial killers in history. And it shows in this book too. There are scenes of punishment and torture in this book that are pretty brutal. If you're sensitive to that sort of thing, this is NOT going to be a fun time for you.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Elizabeth and Anna, and watching it shift and evolve from something flirty, to something passionate, to something twisted and poisoned and toxic. I was as captivated by Elizabeth as Anna was. She is elegant and regal and has such a seemingly lovely life, filled with feasting and beautiful dresses and music and parties. It's a life Anna- nor myself, obviously- has never known before and I too found myself wrapped up in the luxury, despite the red flags and ominous clues to suggest that Elizabeth is not the good person that she may seem, no matter how beautiful she is.

The actual writing of the book is well done. The settings were vivid, the characters were well developed and different in tone and voice. The dialogue was well paced and flowed well.

I can't quite put my finger on why I enjoyed this book so much. It held my attention, and I think I read it in two sittings total. It was captivating, albeit in a terrible, monstrous way.

The only reason this is at a 4.5 stars instead of a five is the ending. It felt rushed and a little too perfect. It didn't match the flow of the rest of the book, in my opinion. It was a bit disappointing that it wasn't as satisfying as I hoped it would be. It felt very neatly tied up like there was a page limit, and I wish it would have went on a little longer.

I don't know who to recommend it for. There's violence, there's lesbianism, there's murder, there's alchemy. If that sound like your idea of a good read, than you might be in luck with this one.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my 100% honest review. Thanks, Amulet Books!


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