The Quick

The Quick

3.0 24
by Lauren Owen
     
 

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You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick –

But first, reader, you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest,

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Overview

You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick –

But first, reader, you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.

It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.

'Sly and glittering' Hilary Mantel

'Impossible to resist' Kate Atkinson

Editorial Reviews

Young poet James Norbury has suddenly vanished and his devoted sister Charlotte is determined to find him, but in a Victorian London infested with secrets and vampires, good intentions alone seldom suffice. With the help of more savvy helpers, Charlotte tracks a few promising leads to doors of the prestigious Aegolius Club, but saving James and solving the mystery requires some Sherlock Holmes worthy skullduggery and a healthy immersion in undead lore. Lauren Owen's adroitly plotted novel The Quick invites you in and then snaps the door shut behind you.

Library Journal
04/15/2014
Charlotte and James Norbury, abandoned to the servants' care by their father after their mother's death, grow up relying on each other on the decaying estate of Aiskew in Yorkshire. James, an aspiring poet, moves to London in 1892 and finds his only real friend in young aristocrat Christopher Paige. But then James vanishes suddenly, compelling Charlotte to search for her brother in an unfamiliar city. She soon uncovers a frightening connection between her brother's disappearance and the Aegolius Club, a mysterious, exclusive society whose members are not only elite and powerful but also extremely dangerous. Owen's debut is an intriguing blend of historical, gothic, and supernatural fiction. Readers will be especially engaged by the author's memorable characters, particularly Adeline, a tightrope walker-turned-avenger, and her partner Shadwell. Owen's wonderful atmospheric writing is evocative of Victorian London. VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/13.]—Barbara Clark-Greene, Groton P.L., CT
The New York Times Book Review - Andrew Sean Greer
…a good old-fashioned vampire novel…To cover such well-worn narrative ground, a novelist has to either invent new possibilities or invent new storytelling devices. Owen has chosen the latter, and the novel proceeds by looping back over the previous episodes, each time from a different character's perspective. This has the pleasant effect of plunging us into invention and then, slowly, into recognition…The Quick is full of…wonderful inventions, while still providing the torn collars and hungry looks the genre demands. Like a corpse in a bag, Owen's novel is lumpy in places, spattered in blood and eventually opens up to horror. What fun.
From the Publisher
“A suspenseful, gloriously atmospheric first novel, and a feast of gothic storytelling that is impossible to resist.”—Kate Atkinson, bestselling author of Life After Life and Case Histories
 
“A cracking good read . . . Owen takes the gothic conventions of the vampire novel in a refreshing new direction.”—Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches and The Book of Life

“Reading the blurbs on the dust jacket of Lauren Owen’s first novel—from such luminaries as Kate Atkinson, Hilary Mantel, and Tana French—readers might think they’re about to embark on a high-handed version of the Gothic novel, full of metafictions and literary allusions. These do appear, along with some beautiful language, but by Page 100, when the first neck is about to be bitten, The Quick drops its cloak and becomes a good old-fashioned vampire novel. . . . [It’s full of] wonderful inventions, while still providing the torn collars and hungry looks the genre demands. . . . What fun.”The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
 
The Quick is that rare book that reviewers and readers live for: both plot- and character-driven, a stay-up-all-night-reading romp of more than 500 pages that you’ll desperately wish was double that. This is elegant, witty, force-of-nature writing, and Lauren Owen should have a long and illustrious career ahead of her.”The Dallas Morning News
 
“The book’s energy, its wide reach and rich detail make it a confident example of the ‘unputdownable’ novel.”The Economist

“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
 
“[A] creepy debut . . . a thrilling tale . . . This book will give you chills even on a hot day.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Forget Jack the Ripper—it’s the curiously pale aristocratic types you need to beware of in this supernatural Gothic nightmare. . . . Owen’s stylishly sinister world of betrayal and Lovecraftian monsters will have you sleeping with the lights on.”O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“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, bestselling author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies
 
“A big, sly bucketful of the most tremendous fun . . . At first, The Quick seems like a really terrific, plain old tale of yesteryear—à la John Banville or Peter Carey or Eleanor Catton. . . . [But then] things begin to really rollick. . . . [Owen] weaves what’s here with what’s beyond as easily as J.K. Rowling does, and as with Rowling, she seems to feel particularly at home with the beyond.”Slate

“[An author of] prodigious gifts . . . Owen captures Dickens’s London with glee and produces a number of characters Dickens would be happy to call his own.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Quick is ambitious in both scope and structure. . . . Her London is exquisitely detailed. . . . [Owen] inhabits the breadth and panorama of the Victorian tale.”The Washington Post

“The first quarter of this debut novel is a lovely, poetic tale. . . . The last half is entirely bonkers and totally unexpected. Read it with the lights on.”—The New Republic
 
“Make no mistake, The Quick is good reading. . . . Adventure of the first order, firmly rooted in both the tropes of the genre and the skilfully rendered texture of the period . . . driven by sharp storytelling, thought-provoking ideas, and strong characters.”The Globe and Mail
 

“Like the best gothic fiction, this dark tale of manners and morals closely guards its secrets; over hundreds of pages, one unspoken word lurks in the corners of every character’s and reader’s mind. By the end of Owen’s precocious first novel, set in the narrow streets and cavernous interiors of Victorian England, you will understand viscerally how monsters are made and what it means to be human.”More magazine

“Lauren Owen is an impressive storyteller and with this ambitious debut, the literary world will soon take notice. Part gothic mystery, part Victorian romance, The Quick is a novel where the glamorous and the macabre collide. . . . With suspenseful rhythm and illustrious prose, Owen succeeds at crafting a fresh, enchanting portrait of Victorian London wrapped around an irresistible mystery that is at once beautiful and terrifying.”Bustle
 
“[The Quick] hits the mark in terms of suspense and gothic literature. . . . Reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and [Elizabeth] Kostova’s The Historian.”The Times-News

“If you are a fan of literary Gothic—think Susanna Clarke or John Harwood—buy this book. You won’t regret it. . . . A long gallery of beautifully drawn characters makes the many pages of The Quick turn as swiftly as those of a Wilkie Collins novel.”BookPage

“Seductive . . . extraordinarily polished . . . a book for readers to lose themselves in.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Lauren Owen—a brand-new author with an M.A. in Victorian Literature—has produced her own mind-bending tour de force.”Locus
 
“Owen has created an intricate world in which the reader feels a part. Take the trip, if you dare, into a luscious Victorian London rendered by a gifted young British writer who seems weaned on equal parts Sherlock Holmes, Buffy Summers and Harry Potter.”Shelf Awareness
 
“An intricate, sinister epic . . . an impressive feat . . . Owen proves a master at anticipating readers’ thoughts about future happenings and then crumbling them into dust. Her world building is exceptional, and readers will simultaneously embrace and shrink from the atmosphere’s elegant ghastliness.”Booklist
 
“An elegantly written gothic epic . . . Owen’s soaring imagination and her light-handed take on magic save this story from being either obvious or boring. . . . The journey from one genre to another is satisfying and surprisingly fresh.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“An intriguing blend of historical, gothic, and supernatural fiction . . . [The Quick features] wonderful atmospheric writing.”Library Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679645054
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/17/2014
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
120,721
File size:
3 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Quick

A Novel


By Lauren Owen

Random House LLC

Copyright © 2014 Lauren Owen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8129-8343-2


CHAPTER 1

There were owls in the nursery when James was a boy. The room was papered in a pattern of winding branches, amongst which great green parent owls perched in identical courting couples. Beneath each pair, a trio of green owlets huddled, their sharp beaks slightly ajar. They sat between big, thistling green flowers with tiny white blossoms which made James think of mother-of-pearl buttons, the kind on Charlotte's Sunday dress. When he was alone in the nursery, James thought he could hear the owls chatter together softly, like monkeys, scratching and scratching their claws against the endless green branches. But when Charlotte was there, they were quiet, because she had told them that if they did not behave, she would get her box of watercolours and paint out their eyes.

At night James would hear the real owls screech outside and imagine them gliding through the dark. Sometimes there was the high sudden cry of a fox. And sometimes there was a noise from the house itself, a whispering creaking sound, as if the walls were sighing.

Often he would slip out of bed and down the corridor to Charlotte's room. Charlotte would always be sound asleep: face down on the pillow, though Mrs. Rowley, the housekeeper, said it was unnatural and would lead to Charlotte being smothered to death one of these days. James would slip under the blankets and lie down topsy-turvy, with his head at the bottom of the bed, his feet near the top. Charlotte would sometimes murmur and kick halfheartedly against him, then fall asleep again, and James would do the same, his feet pressed against her back until they grew warm. They would lie all night like that, snug as the pair of pistols that lived in the blue-lined case in Father's study.

When morning came James liked to wake early, open Charlotte's bedroom window and look down onto the grounds of Aiskew Hall, which went on for as far as he could see. There were wide lawns and gardens edged by paths and stately, lovely old trees—oaks and horse chestnuts and copper beeches and silver birches. Between the trees there were two grassy mounds. These were the icehouses, which now held gardening tools and other odd things.

At a distance, the gardens still had the illusion of being neat and well tended, as they had been before James and Charlotte were born. Long ago, in the prosperous days, there had been people to look after things: gardeners and undergardeners, two gamekeepers and a carpenter. A fire engine, too, drawn by horses. Now there was only Griswold, strange and grim-faced and sixty-three. There had been a young Griswold once—the gardener's son, who had been expected to take over from his father and who instead went off to foreign parts and then died (fighting the Shantee, said Ann, the housemaid. James thought perhaps this was a sort of banshee).

After his son went away, Griswold had been left alone to wage a vain and bitter war against the gardens. He shot the rabbits but they came back, grazing the lawns at their leisure. The mighty rhododendron bushes flourished unchecked, and in the orchard the trees turned wild and the apples were eaten by blackbirds.


At the end of the hall gardens, the ground gave way to a sudden drop that felt like the edge of the world. Below was a ditch full of nettles, which was called a ha-ha. Beyond that there were wide flat fields for miles, green and gold in the spring, red-brown earth in the winter. There were oak trees and black sheep grazing and the ruins of a small Grecian temple, where long ago the ladies of the hall would sit to enjoy their books and needlework. Part of the roof had given way, and the pillars looked slightly crooked. It was not safe to sit there any more.

Charlotte had heard Mrs. Rowley say that people in Aiskew village thought it was a scandal to leave the hall so neglected. Before now the hall people had always done their part in the village: there had been treats for the Sunday-school children; sometimes the hall ladies would take baskets to the villagers who were poor or ill. More than that, there was any amount of work at the hall: mouths to be fed, washing to be done, windows to be cleaned, horses to be stabled. It had been a fine place, back in the old days. Now it was mostly shut up. Everyone wondered why Charlotte and James's father troubled himself to keep the house at all, since he did nothing with it.

Charlotte thought that if Mother were still alive, then Father would have lived with them, at least some of the time, when he could be spared from his business, and the people in the village would have been friendlier. As things were, nobody much cared for James and her. Even Mrs. Rowley seemed to prefer them to be elsewhere: outside in the gardens or at their lessons or in the nursery, anywhere as long as they were out of the way.

When Father had left Charlotte and James at Aiskew after Mother's death, he had said that he would make all the proper arrangements. Then they did not hear from him for a long while. Eventually he wrote to tell Mrs. Rowley that he had engaged a governess. The letter went on to say that he would approach Mrs. Chickering, his aunt, who might be able to make a long visit to Aiskew, to help Mrs. Rowley set things in order and make the place comfortable again. Once all this was done, perhaps he could be spared from business long enough to come back to Yorkshire himself and see them.

At first they were all of them—Charlotte and James, Mrs. Rowley and Ann, and Mrs. Scholes, the cook—in the habit of speaking as if Mrs. Chickering might arrive any day. But months went by, and she did not appear. It was her health, Mrs. Rowley said, sounding rather scornful. Mrs. Chickering never seemed strong enough to travel. A year passed, then another.

Ann and Mrs. Scholes were the only servants at Aiskew—apart from Griswold, who scarcely counted. They were both up from York and spent a great deal of time huddled in the kitchen for warmth, complaining over the remoteness of the house, the dreariness of the mists, and the loneliness of their situation. Sometimes there was a governess for Charlotte and James—but these ladies never stayed for very long.

So Charlotte did her best: they would have to be brave, she told James, and she devised ordeals for them to perform—walking down one of the long corridors alone after dark, or keeping one's head under the bathwater for a minute at a time. Or—this was worst of all—shutting oneself in the priest hole in the library.

The library was full of treasures. The cousin—the very distant cousin who had owned the hall before them—had bought books at a fearful rate, adding to an already extensive collection. There was no one to stop Charlotte and James from taking what they wanted, poring over whichever old, delicious-smelling volumes they chose.

It was a beautiful room, too: there was a red carpet and red-and-gold paper on the walls and a beautiful marble fireplace with a pattern of grapes carved all the way round.

The priest hole had been added to the house by the cousin. He had many romantic ideas and had lavished money on trifles. Much of the grounds and the farmland had been sold to pay the resulting debts, and the estate had been much reduced, and the cousin had died in Italy of grief or something else.

The cousin had thought that the priest hole might make the house seem older than it really was, though why he should have wanted this neither Charlotte nor James could have said. It was frightening inside—stuffy and smelling of wood and polish. Ann sometimes left dusters and brooms in there, and if you weren't careful you could knock them over in the dark. The door to the priest hole was hidden, fitted cunningly behind one of the bookshelves. It opened with a secret spring concealed behind a dummy book—Fungi of the British Isles, Vol. II. The false spine was scruffy claret-coloured leather, faded from the touch of many hands. If you didn't know which one it was, you might never find it. From inside the priest hole, there was no way of getting out again.

You passed the ordeal if you didn't scream for help. When the door was shut, it was so close to your face that it felt difficult to breathe. There was no light. It felt as if everyone outside had gone away and there would be no one ever coming to let you out.

They did not do this ordeal often—only when the door's fascination grew too much. It was the best ordeal of all and would make you the bravest, Charlotte said. And this was good, because if you did enough ordeals, you would be grown up.


* * *

One June morning, when Charlotte was nine and a half and James was five, she took a box of coloured chalks out to the terrace and set about teaching him his letters. This was necessary because Miss Prince, their latest governess, had gone home to Shropshire two weeks earlier without being able to make James properly acquainted with any letter other than S (with which, for reasons he was unable to explain, he had an odd fascination).

The terrace had large flagstones which would grow warm in the sun, so that in the hottest days of summer it was pleasant to walk over them barefoot. Charlotte took a piece of white chalk and drew a large A onto one of the stones. Then she moved a little way along, stooped again, and drew B.

"What're you doing?" James asked.

Charlotte glanced up, brushing her hair out of her eyes with a chalky hand. It left a dusting of white at the top of her head, making her look as if she were wearing a powdered wig, like a lady of a hundred years ago.

"You have to know the alphabet," she said.

"Why?" James asked, staring at A with vague mistrustful remembrance.

Charlotte looked up from F with a frown. "Because you have to. What would you do if you grew up and you couldn't read? People would think you were ignorant."

She said ignorant in a disagreeable way she had learned from Miss Prince—leaning on the ig, making it sound like a finger jab to the ribs.

James scowled. "I don't care."

"Well, Father probably thinks you can read already," Charlotte said, and drew N—it came out bigger than she had intended, all pointed angles, making James think of a gate locked shut.

He watched her in silence and made no further argument. After a moment, he went over to where she was kneeling, the twenty-sixth flagstone, and inspected what she had drawn. It was an angry angular slash, a diagonal stroke, its elbows pointing both directions in a standoffish sort of way.

"What's that?" James asked, pointing at it with his foot.

"It's Z," said Charlotte.

"It looks like half an hourglass."

"Well, it isn't." Charlotte stood up and brushed the dust from her hands. "Now go and stand by the fountain."

James did as he was told. The fountain was a bone-dry stone bowl at the middle of the terrace, supported by three naked cherubs with mossy legs and expressions of baffled malignity. One of them was missing his nose, and this misfortune, which ought to have made James feel sorry for him, only made him the most hateful of the three.

Charlotte had climbed onto the low wall of the terrace and was pacing up and down. "When I call the letter, you have to go and stand on it."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Quick by Lauren Owen. Copyright © 2014 Lauren Owen. Excerpted by permission of Random House LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Lauren Owen was born in 1985. She studied at Oxford University and the University of East Anglia, where she received the 2009 Curtis Brown Prize for the best fiction dissertation. The Quick is her first novel. She lives in Northern England.

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The Quick 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Marissa Book provided by NetGalley for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book I was really quite surprised by this book. Despite the description, I picked up the book thinking it was a mystery – girl looks for missing brother – possibly with elements of erotica. What I did not expect was vampires. Now reading the book’s blurb, I can see I totally missed the intent. However, this is not your typical vampire novel. James Norbury moves to London upon his graduation and finds the city grimy and dark and not much to his liking. He eventually meets Christopher Paige and begins to see the city through different eyes. I loved the way James’ character changed from dark to light as he fell in love. Even after he is bitten, he holds that light of love for Christopher. Charlotte Norbury has a lesser role, guiding James as the older sister then seeking him out when he goes missing. Charlotte has the strong character I imagine women of that time must have had. She cares for the estate after James leaves, then tends to her ailing aunt, and finally, travels to London on her own to begin the search for her brother. Even more so, rather than run home at the first glimpse of what her brother has become, she fights to save him. The other characters in the book – Adeline, Shadwell, Mould – are just as well-written. There is enough background to learn why the characters have become what they are and why they act the way they do. Adeline and Shadwell are what you might call the Guardians of the Truth. They collect information on vampires and protect innocent humans from them. Mould, aka Doctor Knife, is the creepy monster of the book, a sort of cross between Dr. Frankenstein and Mr. Hyde, who wants to dissect and experiment. While the ending was not quite a surprise, it was a good ending nonetheless. It allows the story to have that OMG moment as a stand-alone book or leaves room for a sequel. Either way works for me. The Quick is a fascinating story that kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
This book is difficult to review because I don't want to give away anything. Let's just say there was a really BIG twist that was unexpected. It was something I particularly enjoyed, and readers looking for a conventional Victorian suspense novel may continue reading; for others, this may not be your cup of tea. I thought the take on this particular topic was unique, intriguing, and at times thought-provoking. Victorian London was the perfect setting and added to the element of suspense. There were numerous characters and different POVs which were sometimes confusing, but I felt this was necessary to advance the plot line. Although filled with angst and torment, James was an engaging character to read. Because he had to hide who he really was (in more ways than one) I sympathized with him. With some of the characters, however, I felt like too much backstory was given and with others, I could have used a little more, such as Eustace Paige. I would have liked to know more about his motivations. This novel was engrossing and I especially liked the ending, but felt it could have been trimmed down some. There were definite highs and lows with pacing. This review is based on a digital copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
Recently, I have gotten a lot of my book recommendations from the great gang at Book Riot, and they have rarely steered me wrong. So when they named The Quick not only one of the "5 books to watch for in June," but also one of the best books Riot staff read in May, I promptly sought it out on NetGalley. This time, however, I am going to have to disagree with Liberty Hardy ("I loved it so much") and Amanda Nelson ("hated the ending, but loved the rest of it"). While well written, The Quick is nothing to write home about. As the publisher's summary indicates, the book centers around James Norbury and his sister Charlotte, and this is its greatest flaw because James and Charlotte are boring. The first 100 pages are so are carried, not by James, but by his charming friend Christopher Paige, and once James disappears in London and the focus shifts to Charlotte's search for him, the story loses all momentum. Chapter 18, which tells the story of Charlotte's new friends Shadwell and Adeline, is by far the best in the book; their relationship feels real. On the other hand, the relationship between James and Charlotte, and her later relationship with Arthur Howland, are unpersuasive. Owen tells us, for example, that Charlotte loves James, yet nothing in their adult interactions reveals why she should feel anything more than a superficial sibling bond. Early on, Owen describes her lead characters' lives thus: "It was if their lives were a pencil line drawn on a piece of paper and someone had followed behind with an India rubber, erasing the line as they went." I couldn't agree more; James and Charlotte are eminently forgettable. Nelson may be "completely and slavishly willing to read the sequel that [she]’d bet money is coming in the future"; I'll pass. I received a free copy of The Quick through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
The Not So Quick I would like to thank NetGalley & Random House for granting me a copy of this e-ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Blurb: 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  Despite the glowing description in the Goodreads blurbs above, I did not find this book particularly compelling. Reviewing this book while avoiding spoilers is something of a challenge, to say the least. The first half of the book was something of a bore for me, with minor interludes of interest, such as James' unexpected love. For in that day and time, when class still had great importance, to defy the class-structure was to risk your standing in society. Even though James and his love-interest did their best to keep their relationship below the radar, they weren't entirely successful, and it seems to have been the cause of most of the calamitous events that follow their discovery. Aside from those small islands of interest the book simply didn't grab my attention. It felt dry and scattered to me, even assuming that all those scattered bits of information would later be stitched into a cohesive tapestry. Some of the stories never did seem to need the depth which they were given, and although they were somewhat interesting it felt as though the author had plans for them that fell through later in the book, and someone forgot to edit out the earlier lead-in. The way Charlotte ended up in London was actually due to his habit of writing to his sister on a regular basis. A habit he maintained even after he began his love affair. But then the letters simply stopped coming. A worried Charlotte sent several telegrams, none of which met with a reply, causing her to pack a small bag and head for the city of London in search of her brother. So ultimately she didn't even know he was missing until she arrived at his place in London. She thought maybe he was desperately ill, or an accident had befallen him and no one knew how to reach her. She was only partly right with that last bit. Charlotte meets some interesting characters, each with fascinating stories and professions. A Mr. Howland has some firsthand knowledge of her brother, and along with Ms. Swift and Mr. Shadwell, help her figure out where her brother most likely is. Between these four, and several other acquaintances, Charlotte goes on a dangerous chase through London in search of James.  All hints in London seem to point toward the illustrious Aegolius Club. However the Club, as well as it's members, are deeply shrouded in mystery, and more than a hint of danger. Very little is actually known about the club, other than its members are from the very upper echelon of society. However they are reclusive, and as no women are allowed in the club very little in the way of fodder for gossip makes its way out. Aside from coming from the top of the societal food chain the other thing the members share is an air of danger. Things come to a head in London, and after narrowly escaping danger, her search takes her abroad. Though now she is looking for an answer to the ultimate question, a question that many had been researching for time unknown. This time she has not undertaken her quest alone. She has developed a partnership with one of her companions from London. This book is somewhat like a bumbling version of a Sherlock Holmes story, filled with mysteries and mayhem, but with leading ladies as well as leading men. Yet there is a fair amount of extra material, and too many central players for me to feel particularly invested in any one or two. The closest I come would be Charlotte, Mr. Howland, and Ms. Swift, and yet even with them I felt as though I was being held at an arms length away, if not further. I find it terribly challenging to become invested in a book when I can't get invested in the characters, as they are what drive the story for me. I couldn't find fault with the writing, the grammar or turn of phrase. Yet the extra material was a deterrent, as was the way the beginning of the story bounced from place to place, person to person. The story became more linear as time went on, which in some ways made it worse, as I feel that stories should commit to being either linear or non-linear and remaining that way for the duration. Yet clearly others found this to be a riveting story. I will say that the portrayal of London and the surrounding countryside was excellently done. It made me feel as though I were actually there, witnessing the events as they unfolded. The rich, detailed descriptions were excellent, and certainly helped redeem the book for me, though I'm still unable to reconcile the rave reviews with my experience of the book.
Meemo_B More than 1 year ago
*Copy provided by Netgalley for an unbiased review.* What to say about this one? I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the atmosphere, enjoyed Lauren Owen's writing style and the characters she's created, and I enjoyed the twists and turns this story took. There were bits of plot points that I saw coming, but more that I didn't. I don't want to give away too too much, since some might not know about the initial "surprise". But I do recommend it, and I will definitely be on the lookout for Owen's next book.
Neevie More than 1 year ago
Others have remarked that it is hard to review this book without giving too much of the plot away.  I agree.  It isn't so much that there are unexpected twists and turns, but more the fact that the author chose less than conventional ways of telling this type of story.  To share those would be to ruin it for some readers I think.  Part of the book's charm is that it does and does not take a well trodden road, if that makes any sort of sense. The book is very well written. The author does a nice job of making me feel the dreariness of 1890's London; the oppressiveness of the "Club"; the grandeur of London's high society; and the griminess of London's not-so-high society.  I firmly understood each character and their motivations.  As some reviewers have suggested it would have been nice to see some more back story on some characters but  I had what I needed to enjoy the story. It does start off slow. It's almost boring in terms of the way the author described the comings and goings of some of the main characters.  But after reading through it, I saw the wisdom in it.  By the middle of the book, when it's clear it's about vampires and the people who may or may not love them for whatever reason, the contrast between their old lives and their new is just that much stronger, and that much more sad.   Overall, I enjoyed this book very much.  I was left with enough residual feeling to still care and think about the story.  And as much as the ending could be interpreted as leaving the story open for a sequel, it was enough to stand alone. And in this age of the 10+ book series I am very thankful to read a single book I can enjoy and not worry about when I can find out what comes next.
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
{There are spoilers in this review} Given the sprint reading course that I have been on lately I was a little intimidated by the bulk of this book 544 pages is not something to blink an eye at but a gothic Victorian London and vampires is just to hard for this girl to resist. It is like my favorite genres meshed into one glorious book! So James and Charlotte Norbury, brother and sister, grow up in the family home, Aiskew Hall, with each other as the others only companion. There are some servants of course but since their mother's death their father doesn't ever come home to see his children and seems even to bothered to take care of their welfare. But they have each other and they make due the best that they can. Then one day their father comes home but only because he is deathly ill and whilst the kids are playing the children are finally allowed to see their father but only Charlotte does because while they were playing James went into the hidden priest hole in the library and so as not to get in trouble Charlotte left him in there and went to see their father alone. After leaving her father's side Charlotte noticed that Mrs. Chickering, her aunt, Mrs. Rowley, the housekeeper, and the doctor all went into the library where James was still locked in the hidden priest hole unbeknownst to the adults they were actually informing James of his father's death in the most unpleasant way.  What a horrible way to find out your father is dead and that you missed the chance to see him, would you blame your sister for it? James doesn't seem to but Charlotte fears it but by then it doesn't seem to matter because they are soon forced apart, James to school and Charlotte to live with their aunt, Mrs. Chickering. Time soon passes rather quickly and in the case of this book a turn of the page burns through years of James and Charlotte's lives. James is in his final term at Oxford and is getting ready to take London by storm deciding upon writing as a profession since he is rich enough already to be able to do what he loves even though the pay is dismal. James soon finds himself sharing a suite of rooms with Christopher Paige and a friendship of note ensues but then something more seems to grow there and that is just not something you do in Victorian London. Confronted by Eustace, Paige's brother, about their relationship, James wants to end it but Paige would rather run away together than lose James or let Eustace tell him how to live his life. But tragedy strikes first leaving Paige dead and James a creature of the night. After not hearing from James after the death of their aunt, Charlotte sets out for London to discover what has become of her brother and finds that thanks to the Aegolius Club her brother is now a vampire. Both Charlotte and James meet both regular people and vampires along the way who help them escape the clutches of the Aegolius Club. A lot of action ensues and they are able to escape London and return to their ancestral home where Charlotte seals James into the priest hole in the family library as she sets off to find a cure for her brother. Always searching Charlotte ages as her brother stays hidden in the priest hole looking just like when she sealed him in there but when Charlotte dies her husband goes to free James only to find the priest hole empty! I found the writing gripping the kind that bounds you to the page having to know what is next, there were a few parts that I thought what the "...." but this book is quite a large undertaking for a first novel so I choose to forgive those parts.
LottieTripe More than 1 year ago
MAGNIFICENT!  I grew up on Anne Rice, so with that being said, the Vampire tale bar has been set quite high. The sophistication and epic span of The Quick, may prove to be the proverbial passing of the torch. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very difficult to read. It jumped around too much and had too many plots going on and too many characters. I read the entire book only because I thought it would get more interesting. It didn't. Would not recommend unless you like complicated books and lots of blood.. Very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring read waste of time and money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading the description of this book given in the Nook Store, which drew me in and had me looking forward to a mystery, I was surprised to find it was about vampires. I didn't dislike this book but I didn't especially enjoy it either. However, after paying $13.99 I was determined to see it through to the end. It isn't a bad story but is one that is filled with a great many charcters and viewpoints. I felt that the characters lacked depth. The motivations for the actions of these characters seemed to be stated more than described making them somewhat hard to relate to. I found the ending to be rather flat. I would only recommend this book to diehard vampire fans that feel they have exhausted other book options.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was profoundly unfulfilling. It is an easy read and a waste of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SouthernPsych More than 1 year ago
Tedious. I made it through the first 100 pages and the "twist" and I was bored silly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
can't recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an intestine read, however there was not a strong sense of character development and the narrative was choppy. The story could have had a more cohesive flow, but for the author's first novel, it was an interesting story. Her take on the vampire was grittier and more nuanced: these were not glittery sex addicts, but a darker take on the idea of a vampire. Overall, it was ok.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish I could get my money back on this one. By chapter 5 I was done reading. Very disappointed.
C-Olivia-J More than 1 year ago
this Book was AWFUL. It was stupid, made absolutely no sense - was jumpy and the end disgusted me. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME - that is the one commodity in life you cannot get back. I wish I could give it NO STARS. NONE!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At asher res 1
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Look,I haven't read this book but I hope you will take the time to read my review. I think, because of the different likings,that you would rate it 3 stars. You wouldnt hate it it but you wouldnt love it. If you are a positive person your rating would be good but if you are not it would bad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've not read the book, but it is $2 cheaper for the Kindle version... I think I'll be ordering there.