Anna Darvulia is a 16-year-old who has just been appointed as a scullery maid for Countess Elizabeth Bathory. She is told by the other maids in the scullery about the Countess’s intimidating demeanor and cruel and unusual punishments. Regardless, Anna is determined to get in her good books so she can start sending more money back home. Countess Bathory eventually takes a liking to Anna and promotes her to chambermaid status. At first, everything seems to be going alright and Anna sees no signs of the mad woman the maids had told her of. However, as time goes on and they get closer, Anna sees the cracks beginning to form in the Countess’s carefully crafted façade. The countess’s madness seems to take her over and cast a deep shadow over everything and everyone around her. As one of the only people the Countess trusts, it is up to Anna to save everyone around the Countess from her wrath.
I thought this book was really good and Anna was a likeable character. She was clever but stayed down to earth even when the Countess took a liking to her. It was also interesting to watch the Countess’s go from sweet and loving to Anna to mad and crazy. The transformation was amazing to watch. At a point in the book, when Anna still didn’t see Elizabeth’s madness and was influenced by her, I wondered if I could trust anything she said. Not knowing whether Anna’s point of view in that part of the story was even accurate was my favorite part. It added another layer to the story as well as to Anna and Elizabeth’s personalities. One thing that I didn’t like about this book was the swiftness of the resolution. The countess had set up a never-ending hole of madness that Anna was trapped inside, and the ending should have been more complex and taken a longer time. I do feel, however, that everything was tied up neatly at the end and that everything came a full circle. I also liked that Anna learned to embrace who she was and stayed true to herself.
The most memorable thing about this book to me was watching how Elizabeth Bathory manipulated everyone around her. She was very skilled at it and it showed me that although she was crazy, she was clever too. It was something that added to her madness and I enjoyed watching Anna realize that.
Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library