The Blood Countess

Andrei Codrescu

Simon and Schuster. $23.00.
(paper $6.50)

The Blood Countess is a novel in two parts, the intertwining stories of Countess Elizabeth Bathory and her twentieth-century descendant Drake.

Elizabeth's story reads like a biography, dry and often detached. The author even includes references and quotations from other sources. And like a biography, there is no evident plot beyond the progression of events of her life leading to her trial and imprisonment.

Drake's story, presented as a first person court testimony, is more interesting. He describes his return to his native Hungary where he is immediately caught up in mysterious circumstances he does not understand.

The Blood Countess is an unpleasant novel, filled with sex and torture. Elizabeth tortures and kills hundreds of girls for amusement and in efforts to preserve her own beauty. Since the Countess is an actual historical figure, it is difficult to determine to what degree, if at all, the excesses described are the author's own fiction.

The author himself, Andrei Codrescu, is an NPR commentator who, like Drake, is from eastern Europe. On the radio he speaks with a heavy, lyrical accent, and you can hear the rhythmic cadences of his speech echoing in his written words. This is the only pleasant thing about the book.

This review originally appeared in the January 14, 1996 edition of The Roanoke Times.

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This review copyright 1996 by Wendy Morris 

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