on September 20, 2011
The blurb for this book was nothing like I've ever read before, and once I began the story, I could not put the book down. I'm very impressed with this being a debut novel. The plot is one that will keep you turning the pages, wanting to know what's going to happen with Dani, her career and her relationship, who Maria really is and if she's involved in a murderous cult, and whether Dani will succumb to Maria's seductive lure. Countess Bathory's diary entries discussing torture are hard to take, but they are essential to the plot. Kudos to the author, Holly Luhning, for writing such a fascinating and creative novel. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill story, and I look forward to reading more from this talented writer.
on October 5, 2011
I stumbled across this book quite by accident while searching for Amazon reviews of another book with the same title, and I'm very glad I found it! This is the author's first novel, but you'd never know that from reading it because it's so skillfully done. The work builds by increasingly disturbing degrees as the protagonist's world gradually crumbles (or perhaps, in the spirit of the book, as it slowly bleeds from successive cuts), and she is a sympathetic character, so the reader feels for her as the situation grows ever worse and then culminates rapidly in a brutal crescendo. Be aware that it certainly does have violent and visceral passages, but these are necessary to the narrative and to the themes being explored, and I never felt that the author used them gratuitously.
I highly recommend this to lovers of horror and intellectual thrillers, and hope to see more from Holly Luhning!
on July 29, 2011
While the content is not for the squeamish Holly Luhning's "Quiver: A Novel" is a wonderfully woven tale of mystery, betrayal, and a partial retelling of Elizabeth Bathory's lust for blood and youth. Her main character, Dani, draws you in to her complex and unstable world. Beautifully written!
on March 6, 2012
This book had the potential to be amazing; it just never got there. Based on the summary and previous reviews, I expected this to be a thriller. However, it was more of a look into how and why a criminal psychologist is simultaneously interested and repulsed by their patients. A few small changes to the plot would have made it excellent. However, nothing came as a surprise and the climax of the story was highly disappointing.
on April 8, 2012
"Quiver" is a story built around Elizabeth Bathory -- or, as she's known in her native Hungarian and in Holly Luhning's book, Erzsébet Báthory.
For those who haven't heard of her, she's a 16th-century countess who is infamous for having tortured and killed hundreds of girls before she was arrested and bricked up in her castle, where she later died. "Quiver" is the story of a young woman who is fascinated -- really, you could say obsessed -- with Bathory. Danica is completing the last of her training as a clinical psychologist, a field she entered because of her interest in psychotics.
Danica has managed to get herself a job a mental hospital in England, where she's assigned to work with a convicted murderer who claims to have killed his victim for Bathory. Danica's work there attracts the attention of an old acquaintance, Maria, who tempts Danica with what she says are pages from Bathory's diary. What Maria really wants is a more complicated question, and it's one that Danica will have no choice but to answer.
I was more than a little put off by Danica's interest in Bathory. The story doesn't work unless she's borderline obsessed, but it's still disconcerting how little the extent of the countess' cruelty and monstrosity bother her. She blames her interest on a supremely safe childhood.
"Technically, I was fixated," she says later. For sure. When she reads scenes Maria sends her from Bathory's diary -- scenes of unbelievable torture, total dismissal of the value of countless human lives -- her reaction borders on aroused. (And, yes, there is a subtext of sexual tension between Danica and Maria, who resembles the countess in many ways.)
Without those diary scenes, this book would fall in line with the characters it describes, glorifying a woman who destroyed hundreds of lives and families simply because she could. With them, the reader is kept from buying into the warped adoration of Danica or, more so, Maria. (After I finished "Quiver," one of my first reactions was that no one would think of Bathory as Danica, Maria, and others in the book do. When I headed online to research some of the details of her story, however, I was shocked to find multiple sites whose authors defend her without denying her crimes. How sad.)
This isn't a book I'll be rushing to re-read, despite solid writing and editing. It certainly isn't uplifting, and the main character is both frustratingly obtuse and difficult to root for. If you enjoy horror and are a fan of movies such as "Hostel" or the "Saw" series (which I am not), you'll enjoy this book more than I did.
on September 4, 2012
If it were possible to give this book NEGATIVE stars, I would rate it -3 stars! I only began this book because the Amazon description made it sound amazing, what I should have done was read the reviews. Turns out most people, like myself, thought they were getting one thing, but were handed something else entirely.
To say that this book was predictable would be the understatement of the year. Only someone with zero knowledge of classic cliches and a 3rd grade education wouldn't be able to figure out "who" was the "mastermind." (I'm trying to be vague in case you are actually still thinking of reading this tripe.) And our dear stupid Danica should have known as well considering how educated she supposedly is. And while we are on the topic of Danica, may I just say that I have met 8 year olds with better self perception and understanding than she does. Maybe she should hit some of those classes on Freuds work that she obviously missed if she wants to continue in the field of psychology. REALLY!!
Now as far as the writing goes, it so over padded with mundane and useless descriptions that you start skimming for your life! I realize that it takes a lot of work and talent to write a book and this is why I'm not an author... maybe some people should think of switching professions as well.
Not since The Last Harem have I hated a book this much, all be it for different reasons. But they, at this point in time, stand as the worst books I've read in the last 10 years.(less)
on March 11, 2012
This came up as a kindle daily deal the other day and the subject matter really piqued my interest so I took a chance on it.
I'm pretty impressed that this is a first novel. I found the story based around a supposed cult that worships Elisabeth Bathory intriguing.
Danica Winston, a training psychologist, met the mysterious Maria while at a conference several years ago. They were drawn together by a mutual fascination of Bathory..her crimes, her beauty, her monstrous nature. Prior to the events of the novel they were scouring Europe for Bathory's personal journals. The mysterious Maria pops back into Danica's life when she's finally found what they looked for for so long. She wants to write a book and she wants more for Dani. She wants Dani to leave her job and consult with her on the book. It would be 'her time to shine.'
This happens at a time when Danica is assessing and counseling Mr. Foster, a deranged killer that also worships bathory and brutally killed a 15 year old girl. Did he act alone or did he actually have help? And why does everything in Dani's life seemingly fall apart when Maria's around, just trying to help her?
One of the highlights of the book, I found, were the translated passages from Bathory's diary that Maria sends to Dani. VERY disturbing things. It's like seeing through the eyes of a perfect monster.
I also found Maria to be frustratingly fun to read. She obviously wanted to be the marionette to Dani's puppet which was very frustrating for Dani, but Maria's attitudes and actions were fun to read.
I do have a few complaints about the book though. While I liked the main character I felt her to be a little weak. She honestly follows Maria around like a lost puppy despite the fact that Maria (seemingly with good intentions) makes Dani's life a mess time and again. There are even flashbacks in the book where Maria treated Dani like garbage and she still kept coming back for more. It was plainly obvious that Maria was totally selfish and I was a little disappointed in Dani, a trained psychoanalyst, would just put up with that type of treatment and not see it coming a mile away. It's supposedly because she's fascinated by the whole Bathory thing that she puts up with Maria, but it didn't come across that way. She just seemed to get punished and loved coming back for more.
I also found that there weren't that many surprises here. I had a feeling which way the book was going to go and who was responsible for what early on. However, the Bathory journals and reading Maria's quirky dialogue made up for that.
Of note, the book is told in the first person PRESENT tense. I've read plenty of first person novels but not always in that tense so it took a little getting used to.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read with some good ideas and a good flow to the writing. I'll be keeping an eye peeled for further works from this author!
Quiver was an intriguing psychological thriller that at times left me breathless, disgusted, and amazed. It's not for the faint of heart, as quite a bit of disturbing detail is included regarding the torture activities of Elizabeth Bathory, the 16th century Countess at the historical heart of this story. We flip back and forth between the Countess' diaries and the life of psychologist Danica, currently working with a contemporary serial killer who likes to imitate the deadly Countess. Throw into this mix a mystery lady named Marie who seems to have an extraordinary connection to the Countess, and you get a tale of intrigue, manipulation, torture, and death.
The characters in this novel are all well done. Dani is interesting as she battles her own obsessions with the Countess, the lack of direction in her life, and her own hidden desires. Marie is perhaps the most intriguing, and it's the interplay between these two that I found to be the most fascinating aspect of the story. The book is well plotted, going in directions that were at times totally unexpected. The pacing is the only glaring flaw in this tale, keeping a suspenseful psychological thriller from becoming a true nail biter. The ties to history add a welcome dimension, prompting me to look up more information on the infamous Countess.
This is a truly sinister psychological thriller that most will find very entertaining despite its uneven pacing. A creative look at a unique historical figure set against a contemporary well observed tale of murder and corruption. Recommended.
on April 9, 2012
I don't consider myself puritanical, and am in fact able to digest, fairly happily, much of the gratuitous violence and sex dished out in contemporary popular culture. In assessing this novel, however, I guess I have to out myself as a kind of puritan. If a book is going to delve as deeply as this one does into themes of torture, murder, and uninhibited sadism, there should be some sort of payoff. Such a work need not have a didactic, "torture is wrong" (or "torture is good"!) point to make; nor should it reveal, to the narrator/protagonist, her secret sadistic desires. The book raises all these possibilities and bails on all of them, in the end. In finishing the book, I came to the conclusion that the author didn't know what to make of her own story. I won't say that reading this book was a waste of time, but it came uncomfortably close to that. I am forced to conclude that the author wants us to revel in our hidden secret sadism, and I suppose that the book succeeds in that regard. But I don't need an inconclusive, poorly plotted novel to reveal my own human flaws to me, thank you very much. In sum, I think that the author has considerable talent and potential, but needed an editor to push her to come up with an actual conclusion. The novel simply stops, without concluding anything.
on January 11, 2013
2.5 stars. I had this on my Kindle for about a year & have decided in 2013 to get some of the lingerers read & done. The best thing I can say is that my task was completed & I finished reading this book. It was well written but a true slog.
Dani annoyed me for much of the story because I was able to see that Maria was a serious problem & not a very nice person but Dani was pulled in & dismissed just about everything because she believed Maria's story about Bathory's diary. It just reached a point with the chaos ensuing that I no longer cared about Dani & her obsession (or about the many descriptions of hair color & gardenia scent). Foster was quite interesting but even that bit of the story unravelled for me. The excerpts of the diary were fairly harrowing but they didn't really anchor anything else going on with the story to feel to me as anything but a macabre sideshow. I lost the will to gawk long before Dani so it was a bit wasted on me. The epic finale/showdown fell a bit flat because of course that was going to be the outcome & the reader figured it out hundreds of pages earlier. That said, Dani does have growth as a character by story's end, so that's better than nothing.