Author: Lauren Owen

Early Review – The Quick: A Novel by Lauren Owen

May 22, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014 6 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Quick: A Novel by Lauren OwenThe Quick: A Novel by Lauren Owen
Published by Random House on June 17th 2014
Pages: 544
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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one-star

An astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London
 
London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

There has been much hush-hush about the true reality of this novel but I think hiding this does it an injustice. The true genre of this story is the supposed ‘twist’ and it’s not much of a twist in all actuality. For those who wish to be kept in the dark, stop reading. Bottom line: The Quick is nothing more than an attempt to combine the enthralling historical fiction aspects of Sarah Waters’ writing and the Gothic mystery of a classic Anne Rice novel. Suffice it to say it was a failed attempt.

The main issue with The Quick is the pacing. The beginning part of the novel introduces the main character James and his sister Charlotte who separate when James moves to London to complete his schooling. James spends his time writing poetry and plays, falls in love and tragedy soon follows. I enjoyed this part of the novel and even the ‘twist’ but instead of cashing in on this heightened intrigue due to the shocking nature of what occurred, the author instead switches gears and changes to a completely new characters point-of-view.

The introduction of the new character, Augustus Mould, also brings a new writing style: epistolary. Normally I adore anything epistolary, however, this was not only dull but tedious and encompassed far too many pages. Once we return to James’ story and point-of-view I had officially lost any and all interest in what had happened to him. What follows is the introduction of several other characters that lacked a much needed differentiation but certainly wasn’t lacking in excessive detail or back story. Much of what we’re given in this novel regarding the back stories of individuals and the tedious details of their lives felt like a ridiculous amount of inconsequential filler by the time I had turned the final page.

Inevitably, this is indistinguishable from the mass of books that share genres. The attempt to create a mysterious element and keep the true genre secret did not make this novel surprising and did not make the ponderous pages that followed any more palatable.

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