The Quick

The Quick

A Novel

Book - 2014 | First edition.
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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.
Praise for The Quick

"A suspenseful, gloriously atmospheric first novel, and a feast of gothic storytelling that is impossible to resist." --Kate Atkinson

"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
"A good old-fashioned vampire novel . . . 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. . . . This is elegant, witty, force-of-nature writing." --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
"A seamless blend of Victorian London and rich imagination." --Tana French, author of In the Woods
"A thrilling tale . . . This book will give you chills even on a hot day." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Stylishly sinister . . . will have you sleeping with the lights on." --O: The Oprah Magazine
"A sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre." --Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall
"A big, sly bucketful of the most tremendous fun . . . [Owen] weaves what's here with what's beyond as easily as J. K. Rowling does." -- 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
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2014]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780812993271
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 523 pages ; 25 cm.


From the critics

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Mar 19, 2018

Owen sets up her book deliciously -- a decaying country estate, two imaginative siblings, the push-pull of Victorian expectations for men and women -- and then, bam!, around 80 pages in, the wonderful sort of gothic-y family novel becomes something else entirely, and not, in my opinion, for the better. Those tenderhearted siblings who hooked me at the start of the novel became flat and predictable, lost the the mass of other stock characters: lady vamp hunter, a doctor in league with the undead, the drunk priest mired in the world of the occult. The pacing is incredibly uneven, and leaves the sense that Owen tried to stitch together some short stories into a novel. The result isn't successful.

Aug 28, 2017

The raving reviews that this book got are probably exaggerated. Overall, I enjoyed reading it because I love Victorian Gothic, but there are several plots that are not always unified in a satisfactory manner. Some characters appear out of the blue, we are given lengthy descriptions of their life, and then they suddenly disappear. Other characters are forgotten and make a sudden new appearance only at the end of the novel. The author has obviously talent, but she needs to refine her plotting skills. I am looking forward to her next work.

Dec 18, 2014

I must say, reading down on the comments, I had to laugh about NYPL's comment that this book reads like a penny dreadful. I cannot agree more.

I went into this book expecting to read a modern version of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", and that is almost what I got in Part 1: a somewhat slow-to-build novel that makes you wonder when all the action is going to happen, which is part of the charm of gothic tales. What happened after Part 1 is a somewhat rambling look at the life of a "normal" gothic vampire belonging to an exclusive club. It slowly lost my attention from there on out. The beginning of the book is enjoyable, but I cannot recommend it after Part 1.

In addition, I did listen to the audiobook. The reader is quite dry in some cases, but decent enough.

Sep 26, 2014

I enjoyed the first 20 pages an then it got incredibly boring. I scanned to the end; where was the "can't put it down" debut book so many raved about?


could not get into it.

punchytree Aug 26, 2014

Delve into the world of vampires in Lauren Owen's first novel. With a Gothic vibe, the reader is immediately immersed into mysterious happenings, damsels in distress, and of course bloodthirsty vampires!

I have a sneaky suspicion a sequel may be in the works.

athompson10 Aug 20, 2014

Absorbing Gothic read. Deep, complex and well written with some tightly crafted suspense too.

CoreneBee Aug 08, 2014

This is not quite the book that you think it is going to be.

Blurbed by no lesser than Kate Atkinson, Tana French and Hilary Mantel, you would image this to be a literary heavy hitter.

Instead, it is a light Victorian gothic/paranormal romp through the twisting corners of London - the cigar smoke-filled exclusive clubs of powerful men to the ragged slums of the street children.

Heavy on the macabre and, literally quite heavy at 500 + pages, this debut clips along to a satisfying conclusion.

Recommended for fans of the paranormal genre who have a bit of a crush on Hilary Mantel.

Jul 13, 2014

Great story though she sure left an opening for a sequel - in the last paragraph!

KateHillier Jul 11, 2014

I'll try my best to not spoil the big twist here. It comes on rather early and, upon reading the preceding pages again, can be seen coming once you know what you're looking for. At the time I was a bit shocked and was convinced I had missed something.

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I'm a sucker for Victorian Gothic and I really did like the way things were going up until the moment when the book becomes something else. After that point it didn't really succeed in engaging me. Maybe because I hadn't expected it and was now dropped into a different kind of story. In the vein it isn't even a particularly good telling of that sort of tale. It's been done better by others before. The Quick does get points for managing to avoid use of a particular word for the vast majority of this 500+ page book. That was another problem, it just got so long and a bit rambling. I love atmospheric prose as much as the next person but it just wasn't doing it for me.

I can't help but feel there may be a sequel coming too. If you make it through until the end you'll see what I mean.

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Jul 13, 2014

Excellent vampire novel taking place in old London.... good vampires vs bad vampires; good vampires gone bad; and a sister trying to save her brother after he had been changed.


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