Title: The Quick
Author: Lauren Owen
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Acquired Via: TLC Book Tours
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.
Praise for The Quick
“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
Sometimes, I wish I wasn't a blogger so I would have more time to devote to books like Lauren Owen's debut, The Quick. I love books set in Victorian England, and this one was right up my alley. The book is beautifully written and the characters are well imagined, but it is also very, very long.
I started reading The Quick a few weeks ago, and I fell in love with Owen's writing. Aiskew Hall and the children, Charlotte and James, were described in such a way that I felt like I could close my eyes and see it all as it happens. Because of C.S. Lewis, I have a special fondness for children running all over large, dusty manor houses, so this part of the novel did not last nearly long enough. When the characters grew up, I found myself drifting away from the book more and more.
The Quick reminded me a lot of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell with its magical realism. As with the latter book, The Quick requires a lot of time to read it. It is not a book you can rush through because of the twists and turns and throwing you about. As Tana French says in praise of the book, it is indeed one to savor. Unfortunately, my reading schedule at present does not allow for such novels. I finally had to give up and move on to my other reading obligations.
Just because I was unable to finish The Quick, it is most certainly a book I will go back to when I have the time to just sit and enjoy Owen's writing and world-building. Giving anything less to such a book would be a great disservice.
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About the Author
Lauren Owen studied English Literature at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, before completing an MA in Creative Writing at 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 Durham, England.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.