The Quick

( 23 )

Overview

For fans of Anne Rice, The Historian, and The Night Circus, an astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian 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 ...
See more details below
Hardcover
$19.96
BN.com price
(Save 26%)$27.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (73) from $3.13   
  • New (20) from $10.00   
  • Used (53) from $3.13   
The Quick

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.99
BN.com price

Overview

For fans of Anne Rice, The Historian, and The Night Circus, an astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian 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. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city 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 the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, 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

“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 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
 
“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

“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

“Seductive . . . extraordinarily polished . . . a book for readers to lose themselves in.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“The book’s energy, its wide reach and rich detail make it a confident example of the ‘unputdownable’ novel.”The Economist

“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


From the Hardcover edition.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

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.
Publishers Weekly
★ 03/10/2014
Though currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, vampires as we know them are a Victorian invention: Dracula came out in 1897. Debut author Owen sets her seductive book in 1892, in a late-Victorian London with a serious vampire problem. And like her Victorian counterparts, Owen depicts a host of characters: there’s shy, provincial poet James Norbury and his intrepid sister Charlotte; vampire hunters Adeline Swift and Shadwell; a rich American in danger; and Augustus Mould, who researches vampire myth and fact on behalf of the vampires, and who’s as warm and friendly as his name suggests. The vampire world is divided: the elite men of the Aegolius club coexist, not happily, with a ragged band of underclass undead. The book’s pleasures include frequent viewpoint shifts that require readers to figure out how each character fits into the story, new riffs on vampire rituals and language, plus several love affairs, most of which are doomed. And there’s plenty of action—Mould’s research, the clubmen’s recruitment efforts, escalating battles between vampires and vampire hunters and among the vampires, and Charlotte’s efforts to save James. 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. (June)
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

Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-10
An elegantly written gothic epic that begins with children isolated in a lonely manor house; takes a spin through the velvet-draped salons of late-Victorian literary London; then settles in to the bloody business of an outbreak of evil magic.The novel draws from several genres and benefits from innumerable literary influences. Indeed, its many elements are so familiar that one feels—not unpleasantly—as if one has read and loved it already, years ago, but can't remember exactly how it ends. The year is 1892, and James Norbury, a poet fresh from Oxford, has taken rooms with an intriguing young nobleman. Alas, the joys of youthful gay abandon don't last long. James disappears, and his sister Charlotte takes it upon herself to come to London to find him. The ominous city that awaits her will please readers who love magical creatures of the elegant, bloodthirsty variety, and the vast cast of more or less creepy characters that populates the cobblestoned streets will satisfy admirers of ensemble novels. As in Dracula, an obvious influence, the supernatural mystery must be solved by a motley crew of avengers. And although the book is not as lushly described as The Night Circus, Owen's soaring imagination and her light-handed take on magic save this story from being either obvious or boring. Eventually, Charlotte discovers that her brother's disappearance can be traced to a secret organization of gentlemen—and no sparkling Beau Brummell or amiable Bertie Wooster is to be found among the terrifying and powerful inner circle of The Aegolius Club.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.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812993271
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/17/2014
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 80,182
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.90 (d)

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.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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.”

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Lauren Owen, Author of The Quick

You first started writing fan fiction. How did that lead you to writing The Quick?

Fanfiction was my first opportunity to share my writing with people beyond my friends and family, and it was a huge confidence boost. It helped me become brave enough to experiment with different genres and forms of writing. I also wrote fanfiction whilst at university - I didn't have a lot of time for original writing, and fanfiction was both a good way to relax and to keep my interest in writing ticking over. The habit of writing was already there when I started writing original fiction again - making the development of The Quick a lot easier.

The novel takes place in Victorian England. What about that time and setting seemed right for the story?

The novel was in part inspired by the gothic adventure tales of the late nineteenth century - novels like The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula, and The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, so to a certain extent the time and setting felt inevitable. I was also drawn to the feeling of change and decline that's present at the end of the Victorian era - there was a perception amongst some at the time that the old values and certainties were slipping away, and that things were quickly changing for the worse.

Who was your favorite character to write and who was the most difficult to write? Why?

I probably had two favourite characters to write - Liza and Porlock. They're both quite self-contradictory people, capable of both violence and vulnerability. They're also both devotedly loyal to people who are exploiting them - I like writing characters whose virtues or talents are misapplied in some way. The hardest character to write was probably Mould - simply because he was relaying a lot of backstory, and some of it wasn't necessary and had to be cut. Reducing his sections took a while!

Who has influenced your writing?

Everything I read influences my writing - I usually have a moment after putting down a book where I can still 'hear' the author's voice in my head - sometimes narrating my life, which can be enjoyable or not, depending on what I was reading. I think Oscar Wilde was a big influence on my writing - his writing is eminently pleasurable, so full of beautiful phrases and images. His fairy stories and The Picture of Dorian Gray have jewels and silks and bright colours - I loved the richness he evokes. The British TV show Blackadder, which I watched a lot as a teenager, is probably another big influence - the language of the show is playful but perfectly pitched, there's something almost musical about it. I always loved the way the series mixed high and low registers, and enjoyed the sheer wordiness of language.

Who have you discovered lately?

I am enjoying Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, which is a real treat for the brain. I've also just read Richard Marsh's A Spoiler of Men. Written in the early nineteenth century, the novel features an evil chemist, who brainwashes people into doing his bidding.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. What genre (or genres) would you say THE QUICK falls into? How does it embrace or subvert the conventions of those genres?

2. What literary influences do you see in THE QUICK?

3. Emily Richter figures into many of the book’s most pivotal early scenes. How much do you think she knows or doesn’t know about James and Christopher’s relationship, and about Eustace’s change? Why do you think she tells James to “be careful”?

4. Discuss the figure of the owl throughout the book.

5. Characters agree to the Exchange for different reasons. Why reasons do you think Adeline’s fiancé, John had? Are there any reasons that would tempt you to join the Aegolius Club?

6. Why do you think Mrs. Price turns children? How does their group compare to other family units in the book?

7. Why do the Club members refer to the living as the “Quick”?

8. How does Mould change over the course of the book? Do you think he remains a man of science to the end? Why might Edmund have delayed so long in giving Mould what he wanted?

9. Charlotte’s quiet life is altered drastically by the book’s events. In what ways does it change for the better? When in the book do you think she is happiest?

10. Had you heard of a priest hole before reading THE QUICK? Why do you think Owen chose to begin and end the book there?

11. The ending of THE QUICK seems to beg for a sequel. What do you think happened to James? What directions could you imagine a sequel going in? Whose stories might it follow? When and where might it take place?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Not So Quick I would like to thank NetGalley & Random H

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 19, 2014

    This book is difficult to review because I don't want to give aw

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 31, 2014

    *Copy provided by Netgalley for an unbiased review.* What to sa

    *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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 29, 2014

    {There are spoilers in this review} Given the sprint reading cou

    {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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 24, 2014

    Recently, I have gotten a lot of my book recommendations from th

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 21, 2014

    Others have remarked that it is hard to review this book without

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Marissa Book provided by NetGalley for review Review

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    MAGNIFICENT!  I grew up on Anne Rice, so with that being said, t

    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. 

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2014

    This book was very difficult to read. It jumped around too much

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 6, 2014

    this Book was AWFUL. It was stupid, made absolutely no sense -

    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!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2014

    The Quick

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 6, 2014

    Tedious. I made it through the first 100 pages and the "twi

    Tedious. I made it through the first 100 pages and the "twist" and I was bored silly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2014

    Overhyped

    This book was profoundly unfulfilling. It is an easy read and a waste of time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2014

    boring

    can't recommend this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2014

    This was an intestine read, however there was not a strong sense

    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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    JOIN ASHCLAN

    At asher res 1

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    Stop

    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

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2014

    Aweful

    I wish I could get my money back on this one. By chapter 5 I was done reading. Very disappointed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2014

    I've not read the book, but it is $2 cheaper for the Kindle vers

    I've not read the book, but it is $2 cheaper for the Kindle version... I think I'll be ordering there. 

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)