Author: Lauren Owen
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
What I Liked:
Let me start off by saying that Lauren Owen, as a writer, has a wonderful and engaging writing style. Her ability to construct poised and delicate sentences is what drives this book forward. Her language is reminiscent of Victorian literature, but is accessible, quick, and melodic. It is her authorial style that made this book for me.
Part One of The Quick was the most tantalizing and seductive chapter. The strong beginning draws you in with scandal, secrets, mystery, and forbidden love. I loved the character of James Norbury in this part. He is thoughtful, quiet, and truly a romantic. He’s everything I would ever want in a brooding Victorian-era poet. His opposite, Christopher Paige, is boisterous, popular, and exciting. As roommate, these two set the story up for endless thrilling adventures and travels.
What I didn’t like:
The pacing in The Quick was all wrong. The majority of the book takes place over what? A weekend? I don’t know. But it’s not very long. And the final few chapters span entire lifetimes. It was difficult to keep track of who was doing what and when. It made reading this book quite awkward because the plot often lagged and then was abruptly rushed for no reason. The reading experience was quite a choppy one.
The chapter allotment for different characters was intensely disproportionate as well. I felt that Part One really honed in on particular characters, introducing them and exploring who they are, and then these characters basically drop off the face of the earth and are rarely mentioned again, let alone given a chapter from their perspective. James for instance, is the focus of part one. We get in his head and learn about him quite intimately. Past this though, he becomes this presence that exists in the distance who makes a casual appearance in a conversation here, or pops up in a scene there. He’s given no time and experiences no character development.
What’s more, characters are introduced throughout the book on a one-time-mention basis. Owen brings in temporary characters who aid in the scene for a few pages and are then promptly forgotten with not a word to be said about them again. I found that the final section was so scattered and fragment because there were so many characters who seemed to appear out of nowhere to help create this big chaotic climax, but were either hardly mentioned or not discuss at all prior and past this particular scene. The second half of the book felt hectic and disorganized.
I wanted to love this book. I really did. I received my copy at an awesome launch by Random House that grabbed my attention and made be want to read the book. Props to the cover designer as well because this book looks absolutely beautiful. Looking at The Quick, it’s one of those books you have to pick up if you see it at the store. And like I said, Owen is a talented writer in terms of her sentences structure and her eloquent vocabulary. The book read extremely well, despite my criticism. I did enjoy this book, but the plot needed more structure.
I can’t say I’d recommend this one, but I also wouldn’t deter you from picking it up. It was a good book.