This dazzling biographical novel rewrites and re-rights history. It vindicates perhaps the most maligned woman who ever lived: Elizabeth Báthory. She lived in the 16th and 17th centuries in the exotic land of Hungary, in Europe's most violent period. Victim of political persecution and the personal hatred of the palatine of the country, tarred with false accusations of horrible crimes—her bathing in the blood of young maidens being the most heinous—Elizabeth's figure has grown over four centuries into a gothic monster.
Countess of the Moon separates the legend from the truth, and reveals a fascinating woman famed for her beauty, quirky wit, and healing skill, with a knack for diplomacy. The Habsburg Emperor Rudolph II, obsessed with the occult; his astronomer and astrologer, Johannes Kepler; the dashing Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua; the celebrated composer Claudio Monteverdi; Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the “Wonder Rabbi,” creator of the Golem, were among the colorful characters who played a role in Elizabeth's life. Members of her own dynasty, too, had an influence on her. The Báthorys were the Hungarian counterparts of the Medicis and the Borgias, a family of extremes with Stephen Báthory, one of Poland's greatest kings as the most famous, and Elizabeth Báthory, vilified by absurd calumnies as the most infamous.
Countess of the Moon is a biography, a chronicle of the Báthory dynasty—at the peak of their power and the abyss of their fall—and a book of history, transmuted into a magical novel beautifully conceived and executed with grace, passion, and a keen human insight. The result of forty years of research and writing, this emotionally rich book is also scrupulously authentic in its vivid details, recreating life in Elizabeth's time—its customs and rites from birth to death, the brutality of battles and tortures, the horror of exorcism and execution, religious exaltation and the ecstasy of love, the occult mysteries of alchemical creation, the suspense of practicing secret healing arts, and political intrigues with murder as their aim make this book an exciting read.
Throughout her life, Elizabeth Báthory longed for peace and happiness, yet she was condemned to anguish and loneliness. Countess of the Moon was written from her point of view, and as such it is a pioneering work, and at times unavoidably controversial. The author draws a powerful portrait of a woman struggling against the merciless force of an empire set to destroy her.
The age of Elizabeth Báthory was in many respects like our own—a turbulent period of spiritual and social crises, wars and revolutions, brilliant scientific discoveries and sinister fanaticism, when traditional values had fallen and new values were born—this similarity makes her story especially timely today.
Published by Griffin Press
Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Zsuffa
ISBN: 978-0-9828813-8-5. Hardcover, 502 pages, illust., $47