Saskatchewan native Holly Luhning  has written a compelling novel based on the shocking life of the Hungarian Countess, Elizabeth Bathory.  Bathory, who was born in 1560, earned her shocking reputation for having tortured and killed over 600 young girls so that she might bathe in their blood and thus retain her youthful beauty.

Luhning’s novel, Quiver, is a creepy crawly book that follows Danica, a young foresnic psychologist, who has moved to London with her artist boyfriend, Henry, to work at Stowmoor, a Victorian hospital for the criminally insane. Danica’s patient is Martin Foster, a young man incarcerated for murdering a young girl as a tribute to Bathory.

Danica’s fascination with Bathory grows when a woman from her past, the  beautiful and duplicitous Maria, comes back into her life. Maria, it seems, has discovered Bathory’s private diaries and as she translates them and begins sending the horrific snippets to Danica, Danica’s life starts to shift.

We’re all, to some degree at least, train-wreck fascinated by the heart of darkness.  Danica’s morbid curiousity about Bathory (and the translated diary entries are not for the weak-stomached, believe me!) is complicated by her attraction/repulsion to Maria. Maria is impossibly beautiful and crazy-cool. I didn’t trust her at all, but I could see Danica’s attraction. There was something sinister about her and always an undercurrent of sexual attraction, too.

Quiver races along like the best thrillers, but it also has something compelling to say about art and that 15 minutes of fame so many of us seem to desperately crave.