The Quick by Lauren Owen (2014, Vintage) Received with thanks from NetGalley
You are about to discover the secrets of ‘The Quick’ – but first 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
An interesting concept. I’m just not sure it managed to pull off the final somersault after all the hype, you know?
What worked for me?
Style – I liked the Gothic elements to the narrative style. It’s a classic style that I always enjoy when it’s done well and I felt like it was in this book. It’s more Victorian Gothic than anything earlier or later, if that makes sense? (well duh, considering the setting..) Anyway. I liked this aspect of the writing.
James – I really liked his character. I mean, he’s a creative type, so I was always going to be sympathetic towards him, no? His storyline, in general, was quite arresting. I was intrigued as to how his own tragi-drama was going to unfold.
What didn’t work for me?
The twist – The whole point of this book is that there’s this mystery, a massive twist that ruins the whole read if you know it beforehand. And.. meh. Maybe it was the strange change of perspective at what I felt was a pivotal moment.. or just that it wasn’t really that much of an OMFG plot twist. This is the danger when you hype something up like this.. it’s almost like setting it up for a fall. I have a massively overactive imagination.. so I guess it was never going to live up to what I could imagine.
Epistolary – The style changes to an epistolary style with the character Augustus, and this is a technique that I’m never a fan of. It just didn’t work for me, I found it difficult to read. There’s only one book that has ever held my attention for its entirety in this style and that’s Dracula.
Long – It’s quite a long book (500+ pages) and I’m not sure it’s warranted. Maybe my attention span is becoming shorter. I just felt like it could have been all wrapped up much faster.
I liked this book. I can’t say there were any real stand out moments for me, and as I said above, the epistolary elements were a real turn off. Still, I like the concept and the Gothic aspects to the narrative style. A healthy 2.5 out of 5, because it doesn’t quite deliver what it promises to.