This Fictionalized Account of Elizabeth Bathory’s Life Falls Short

Posted on March 8, 2017 «
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Book Review
Elizabeth Bathory: A Memoire
by Kimberly Craft

This book has been on my wish list for the longest time—2011 to be exact. And thanks to my #otspsecretsister, who so kindly purchased the book for me, I was able to finally read it.

Elizabeth Bathory: A Memoire is a quick read clocking in at 146 pages. It only took me a couple of days to read. It was interesting, as I didn’t know much about Bathory, beyond the legends, prior to starting the novel. This book is strictly fiction. Craft is known for her non-fiction research on Bathory and decided to take a crack at telling a fictionalized account of Bathory’s story.

The book fell short for me on two points.

  1. The layout. Normally I am able to get past this, but Craft seemed to struggle with remaining consistent in using different typefaces and formats to indicate a change in time and change in point of view. It became confusing at times to determine who and when.

  2. More history. Craft is known for her translation of many documents related to Bathory. I wanted more history, more details about aristocracy in Hungary because once Bathory was finally arrested for her crimes more people were thrown into the mix and it was hard to keep them straight. If they had been introduced, especially since close family friends arrested her, it may have leant more gravitas and suspense to the closing scenes. This is a work of fiction, why not invent the conversations they had that convinced them to finally confront and arrest the Countess?

If Elizabeth Bathory: A Memoire had been longer I probably would have abandoned it. While the story was interesting it lacked the meat to make me want to explore Bathory’s story further. There is definitely potential in Bathory’s story—Wikipedia sites The Guinness Book of World Records stating she is the most prolific female serial killer—this short novel failed to take advantage of that potential and imagine what was happening deep between the lines of personal and court documents that have survived.

P.S. I’ve spent a good amount of time exploring the spelling of memoir in the title. I’m not familiar with this spelling and does not list this spelling either. If there were an accent over the first e it would be French, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since the characters are Hungarian. Just another minor formatting annoyance.


The Quick Book Review

This Fictionalized Account of Elizabeth Bathory’s Life Falls Short

Elizabeth Bathory: A Memoire: As Told by Her Court Master, Benedict Deseo

Author: Kimberly L. Craft
Published on: July 8, 2011
Pages: 154
Genres: historical fiction, adult
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My Rating: Thumbs Down

About Kimberly L. Craft

Kimberly L. Craft holds bachelor and master's degrees as well as a juris (law) doctorate. She also received a Zertifikat Deutsch als Fremdsprache from the Goethe Institut in Munich. Prof. Craft has served on various faculties, including DePaul University and Florida A&M College of Law. An attorney and legal historian, Prof. Craft has spent over a decade researching the life and trial of Countess Báthory and over a year translating original source material into English.

(from GoodReads)




2 responses to “This Fictionalized Account of Elizabeth Bathory’s Life Falls Short

  1. It’s too bad this one didn’t deliver on its potential, Terri. Bathory is someone on whom I figure a great fictionalized memoir could be written. And since this author already had so much factual background to work with, it’s even more of a shame this fell short. Well, at least you got it off your tbr. 🙂