Jan 20, 2020

ARC Review--Blood Countess by Lana Popović

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.

I received this book from the publisher while attending YALLFest last year. My review is completely honest and voluntary; I was in no way compensated for this review. 

I had heard about Lana Popović's Blood Countess while attending YALLFest last year and it sounded amazing! You know me, I love my vampires, and Elizabeth of Bathory was one of the earlier "vampire" legends. She predated legends of Dracula and may possibly have helped to inspire the vampire legend. The short sum of Elizabeth was that she believed blood made her younger and more beautiful and she was very much a woman who was into her looks. She slaughtered a good deal of young woman who were her servants and was rumored to have bathed in their blood.

So begins our tale of young Anna, a healer, who finds herself in Elizabeth's hands. She decides to take on the task of being one of her servants after tragedy befalls her and her family. Elizabeth is a gorgeour young woman, only a few years older than Anna herself, and Anna can't help but enjoying Elizabeth's company, her very presence despite that Elizabeth is married. She and Elizabeth are quite alike in some ways.

That's not to say that Elizabeth is perfect though, she does have a bad temper that tends to lead her to commit violence on some of the other girls working in the castle. But Anna has never been abused by Elizabeth herself. Anna does her best to care for the other girls' wounds and bruises, but it doesn't take long for Anna to make enemies of the girls when Elizabeth starts to favor her.

There is a bit of romance blooming between Elizabeth and Anna. It's most definitely a secretive romance as if Elizabeth's powerful husband were to know, well, it wouldn't be good for Anna.

I first want to mention that though Elizabeth of Bathory is a woman of vampire legend, she is not a vampire. Nor is this a vampire story. There are no vampires here. There's no paranormal here at all! In some ways you could call this a prequel story to what Elizabeth would become in history. I almost thought we would start somewhere in the middle of her dealings, as it felt like there were hints of salvation when Anna was coming to start her job, but as the story moved along, I realized that wasn't quite the case.

In some respect, this is a girl meets girl kind of story. One that evolves into a dangerous relationship. It was terrifying in some respect because of the power Elizabeth wields and the fact that Anna is still just a commoner with no ties, no money, nor power of any kind. She almost has to do Elizabeth's bidding just to keep her very life.

Eventually, Anna starts to see Elizabeth's true colors but by that time, it's too late. Nothing can be undone.

This is the kind of read that I would recommend to historical fiction fans, though it has been so long since I've studied Elizabeth I can't recall what was based on truth and what were liberties Lana took for her fictional story involving a real historical character. The rumors of Elizabeth's bathing habits were still just rumors. I almost need to rewatch that Haunted History special from some years back to see what they said and what validity they had.

Regardless of the actual vampric presence, I will say that Blood Countess was a stimulating read that kept me turning the pages again and again! It's fun to read a historical fiction novel when you're already somewhat familiar with the history presented. This is definitely a read those who enjoy twisted romance tales would enjoy.

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

Blood Countess releases January 28, 2020



  1. Oh my goodness I want to read this SO BAD. I'm bummed there's no vampires though. I was looking forward to a good gothic victorian dracula type book.
    Oh well, glad it was decent!

    Ash @ JennReneeRead

  2. I didn't know anything about this book until reading your review. I do enjoy historical fiction and have read The Fountains of Silence, which is straight HF, and just recently finished a fantasy HF--The Kingdom of Back. With the vampires in this one, I know it won't be a book for me. I enjoyed your review.

  3. I'm predisposed to like something with a great title like "Blood Countess"! Elizabeth Bathory does sound like a bad egg all-around!


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