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.
Named One of the Top 10 Literary Fiction Books of the Season by Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Though the book has an old-fashioned, leisurely pace, which might cause some reader impatience, Owen's sentence-by-sentence prose is extraordinarily polished - a noteworthy feat for a 500-page debut - and she packs many surprises into her tale, making it a book for readers to lose themselves in." - Publishers Weekly
"Her world building is exceptional, and readers will simultaneously embrace and shrink from the atmosphere's elegant ghastliness, but the novel's structure is uneven - it feels overlong in places - and she devotes regrettably little time to her most intriguing characters. It's an impressive feat, nonetheless, one with the potential to attract a cult (and occult) following this summer." - Booklist
"Though abrupt transitions to a different point of view and time period detract from the flow of the story, this will appeal to devotees of the macabre and gothic set in the Victorian period, especially those who enjoy Charles Palliser's Rustication and David Morrell's Murder as a Fine Art." - Library Journal
"A book that seems to begin as a children's story ends in blood-soaked mayhem; the journey from one genre to another is satisfying and surprisingly fresh considering that it's set in a familiar version of gothic London among equally familiar monsters." - Kirkus
"A suspenseful, gloriously atmospheric first novel, and a feast of gothic storytelling that is impossible to resist." - Kate Atkinson, author of Life After Life and Case Histories
"A sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre... As soon as you have breathed with relief, much worse horrors begin. It's a skilled, assured performance, and it's hard to believe it is a first novel." - Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies
"Ambitious, elegant, atmospheric, and often deeply poignant, The Quick is a seamless blend of Victorian London and rich imagination. This is a book to savor." - Tana French, bestselling author of In the Woods and Broken Harbor
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Rated of 5
Debut Author to Watch
Lauren Owen has managed to take something old, the vampire myth and put her own spin on it. This debut horror tale held my interest but could have been tighter than its 500 pages. Not perfect but I'd like to see what else Ms. Owen has up her sleeve.
Rated of 5
Laura M. (Roswell, NM)
This was a very interesting read. It was well-written and kept me guessing about what was going to happen next.
Rated of 5
Mary G. (Purcellville, VA)
Victorian vampire story
I wasn't sure I would even finish this book. I found the beginning slow and frustratingly disjointed. I persevered, however, and the story did pick up. Did I like this book? I am still not entirely sure.
Rated of 5
Kenan R. (Liberty, MO)
I am not a huge fan of this particular genre. That being said- I can enjoy and devour any story with engaging characters, vivid locations, and an intriguing plot. Sadly this story not only slogged through the 500 plus pages, it was bogged down by an over large cast of characters so sketchily presented it was difficult to keep track let alone care about them. There were multiple subplots so abruptly started and stopped as to be confusing and beg the question - "why are we being told this?" I made it through but it was rough and occasionally tedious. I was left feeling a book this long shouldn't have been so vague. The few plot twists that were interesting were never fully realized and as such unable to make up for the plodding pace of the narratives.
Rated of 5
Sylvia J. (Los Angeles, CA)
Quickly engrossing tale within a tale!
The Quick is a layered journey through Victorian London's high and low society. I truly enjoyed the book within a book within a book idea where we learned first about the main characters' early lives, then as they went on their separate ways. Along the way we witnessed the true love story turned undead nightmare with the Aegolius Club and the Mould vampire chronicles. This book hit every check mark to make it one of my favorite books- historical relevance, a great love story and fantastical/mystical/unforgettable characters. I won't soon forget The Quick and I hope there is a sequel to resolve those last questions that remain with the undead and those who fight to protect the living from them.
Rated of 5
Alison F. (Clearwater, FL)
Victorian London with twists and turns
Lauren Owen's The Quick is a well written and carefully plotted novel that pushes the edge of a couple of genres-historical fiction and supernatural. It starts out as almost a coming of age story of a poet/playwright and takes a sudden about face and leads you on an exploration of London and various groups at odds with one another, with some memorable characters. It jumped around a bit more than I like but in all I became very vested in Miss Norbury and her quest and those who try to help. It was a fun read and would be appreciated by Anglophiles, YA readers, and gothic fiction fans alike.
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