Kimberly L. Craft's Infamous Lady shows great premise in that it gathers the most detailed information possible on the Countess and through research and translation gives us what is quite possible the most complete book and source on Elizabeth Bathory. Note that for her book Craft chose to use the countess' Hungarian and birth name Erzsebet instead of the anglicized Elizabeth and she even states at the beginning of the book why she chose to do so. It's without a doubt the most complete book on Bathory and unlike most books this is not a fictional story, but rather about discovering who really was the countess Bathory and why and if she did those atrocities for which she has become a legend and that appealed to me very much. She worked hard to separate the legend from the myth, the number of victims claimed is not as high as it actually was and there was no indication that she ever bathed in blood for instance. She wants to paint an accurate portrait of her as much as possible and I believe it succeeds rather well at doing so. From the first look at the book you can tell that it's an independent, self-published book not that there's anything wrong with that. It's also one of the more scholar works on the Countess you will find.
The content is fantastic for a reader who desires to learn about the Countess Bathory; her tale is fascinating and has been passed down through generations and finally a book delivers on her subject . It goes from the origin of her family, the Bathory name, introduces her parents, siblings and members of her family, the situation in Hungary and Europe, her childhood, her marriage, teenage years, rise to power, her husband Frederick Nadasdy, her children, the events that lead her to commit those atrocities, witnesses, servants... everything up until her arrest and death. And then when it's over, there's more. A glimpse into Bathory's mind from the author and then the court trial and testimony of witnesses and so on. It's a terrific book although it may seem a bit complicated to the average reader at the beginning, I found myself going back a few pages many times when the author was going through the family history in the beginning because there are so many names and they're in another language and it gets hard to keep up. Afterwards it's more straightforward and not as confusing, be assured. So when I say this book is complete, well researched and is possibly the definitive work on Countess Elizabeth Bathory I do mean COMPLETE. As much information available on her as there is (and believe some of it must have been hard to find and needed translation), it's in this book.
It took a great deal of effort from the author to translate all those original documents to the English language and the fruit of her work can be enjoyed in this book. Pretty much the entirety of the book comes from translation of documents and letters. I particularly enjoyed reading some of the letters translated, it was interesting to read Erzebet's own writing and some of the letters she sent and received.
I would have liked for the author to go into more details about a possible conspiracy against Elizabeth as there are people who believe that she never killed but rather was a victim and innocent. She never goes into details on this and never seems to accept it as a possibility. Is it plausible that she might have been framed at all? Not that I'm more inclined to believe it was a conspiracy (especially not after reading this work on Elizabeth) but some people do.
Some of the pictures are portraits of the people mentioned often in the book, we also get maps of the castle and what it looked like, Erzebet's childhood home and such but what disappointed me were the photo pictures. Just looking at them you can see they're pixilated when on a computer screen so one has to wonder why she chose those not so great pictures to be in the book when there are plenty of better choices (or perhaps she couldn't use others for some reason?) and looks amateurish. That's the one of the few real complaint that I have on this book and it's not even that big but it would have looked more professional is all I'm saying. As for the author's sources, she states some in the bibliography, lists some of her translations and it seems as most of it is just that; the author's own translations is the core of the book but somehow it doesn't seem complete.
Otherwise this is fantastic reading on Elizabeth Bathory for those who are like me, fascinated by the tale of the Blood Countess. I can't say that I've read many books on Bathory but a great deal of that is because there are very few (and readable) books on the subject and I would highly recommend this one because it seems to me that this is the closest account of what actually happened. It would be worth it even if only for the accounts of witnesses, court documents and such papers. There's really not a whole lot to complain this is the best book on Bathory out there and it has things like letters and testimonies that separate it from the rest, plus it's hard to put down. I would also recommend Craft's other books on Bathory; The Private Letters of Erzebet Bathory and Elizabeth Bathory: A Memoire. *****