It’s a bloodbath, baby

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This horror article inspired by Elizabeth Báthory originally appeared in our horror newsletter, The Fright Stuff. sign up for herand to get the latest and greatest from the world of horror!

In hindsight, I should have used this topic for the Valentine’s Day scare thing. I mean, what’s more romantic than an extremely attractive woman who may or may not be a vampire but is definitely steeped in young women‘s blood and probably seduces them too? I don’t know what it is, but Báthory-inspired horror just makes me think of Valentine’s Day!

As a lifelong vampire fan, I have a soft spot for stories inspired by the dark tale of the “Blood Countess.” But let’s be fair here for a second: Like the most powerful yet maligned women in history, much of the gruesome legend surrounding Elizabeth Báthory is now seen as little more than slander by her enemies. Just as her crimes were most likely a facade used to rob her of her influence and independence. There is a lack of eyewitness evidence that would be alarming by modern standards, and it is also no coincidence that one aspect of Báthory’s punishment for the alleged murders was the removal of all assets. extremely valuable which she had taken control of after her husband’s death. (We can’t have that, now we can.)

There aren’t a ton of resources I could find on Báthory that seem at least plausibly believable – one of the downsides of having your legacy vilified by history, apparently, is that your story attracts a lot of people. strangeness and not much scientific attention. There seem to be a few history books that might be worth following, but those are really slim picks. This lack of options will also be highlighted later with the books I will discuss. Sadly, few of them are written by people of color. If you want to know more about Báthory, I recommend you check out the folk blogger and podcast host frozen sedgwickThe fascinating podcast episode discussing the truth behind the caption. It was a huge help this week!

Yet despite the likelihood of her innocence, Elizabeth Báthory’s (even fictional) infamy has survived her true story. And just like the historical figure who inspired Bram Stoker’s famous vampire, the fictionalized version of Báthory is more likely to live forever than the woman who inspired her. The reality is a bit sad (and a bit angry), but at the same time, people love a story. And a beautiful murderess who has bathed in the blood of hundreds of young women, that’s quite a story.

So while we give a nod to the much-vilified historical Báthory, who deserved better than her fate, in this week’s Fright Stuff, we also raise a glass to her bloody fictional legacy. They tried to destroy her, but you can’t keep a bad female dog. And we will remember Elizabeth Báthory, in one form or another, long after their names have crumbled to dust.

Blood Countess by Lana Popovic

Although the story knows her as Anna Darvulia, the sorceress companion of the Blood Countess, at the beginning of Popović’s book, Anna is only a cleaning lady brought to work in the castle of the beautiful and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Anna catches the attention of the Countess, she finds herself elevated above her position to the role of maid and personal companion to the Countess. A confident. Ultimately, her plaything, as Anna soon finds herself under the influence of the Countess and isolated from everyone she knows and loves. The prisoner of a murderer. And Anna knows being Elizabeth’s pet will only spare her life so long before the Blood Countess turns on her.

when i arrived at the castle

When I arrived at Emily Carroll’s castle

When I arrived at the castle is a brilliant work of gothic, erotic horror, rendered in Carroll’s favorite white, black and red palette. In this tale, a young cat-like girl arrives at a dark castle during a story night on a mission to destroy the evil within. Too many girls have come before her, never to be seen again, and the beautiful woman at the castle gate hides a monster behind her face. When I arrived at the castle is definitely weird and unexpected in the best way. It’s also weird! In fact, I have to point out that all three titles on this list are queer horror.

caveat: While preparing this newsletter, I made the disappointing discovery that apparently When I arrived at the castle is exhausted. I chose not to remove it from the newsletter because, again, I find Carroll’s work to be brilliant and worth finding. And, thankfully, we have libraries and the glorious power of interlibrary loan!

placeholder cover for House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

Alexis Henderson’s House of Hunger (October 4)

The wait until October is going to be SO long, because I’m already dying to get my hands on Alexis Henderson’s new gothic queer horror novel, based on the legend of Báthory. Seeing this as her only way to escape the city and poverty she was born into, Marion Shaw responds to a newspaper listing that she is the blood servant of a wealthy northern noblewoman. A servant of the infamous House of Hunger, presided over by the seductive and beautiful Countess Lisavet. When Lisavet sets her eye on Marion, it seems like Marion’s fortunes are on the rise, but a series of vanishing bloodthirsty throws Marion’s new life into chaos. She finds herself drawn into a dangerous game that may well see Marion herself among the missing.

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