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Review of The Quick by Lauren Owen

by - May 23, 2014

Format: Hardback
Genres: Victorian, Gothic, Horror,
Pages: 528
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Release Date: 03/04/2014
Book Depository ¦ Amazon UK/US ¦ Goodreads

You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick...

But first, reader, 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.

You only need to look at my bookshelves to know that I'm not usually a reader of 500 page hardbacks, especially when they're not marketed towards teenagers. However I spotted a review of The Quick in a magazine that gets shoved at people in the street (Shortlist, you either know of it or you're lucky) and it sounded so cool and gothic that I immediately wanted a copy. I've been known to stray from my main genre for gothic books before and enjoyed them, so I grabbed a copy as soon as I heard that there was going to be a signing in my local Waterstones. Actually I reserved a signed copy and then forgot to pick it up for over a week because I'm a terrible person.

The Quick is a book of two parts, before you know The Big Secret and after. The shorter, before section, was so much better than the larger second for me. I felt that the characters were so much more likable. The first section is mostly focused on James, who moves down to London from Yorkshire in order to pursue some sort of writing career. I loved this because he moved in with a guy and they fell in love and everything was sweet and lovely and perfect and I just wanted to read about that for the rest of the book to be honest.

The second section creeped up fairly quickly but before I was allowed to go back to James, I was forced to read nearly 20 pages of a diary owned by a man named Augutus Mould, who was about as pleasant as his name suggests. It's here where we learn what's going on in the story and I was a little disappointed, as I felt it was a bit of an overdone topic for Victorian England.

It was during the second section I started to get a little confused. There are a lot of characters introduced and I forgot half of them, then sometimes we would hear their point of view too. Some seemed a little unneeded, especially when we heard their backstory. The main character in this section is Charlotte, Jame's sister, who travels down to London after she doesn't hear from James for a while. My favourite new character in this section was Liza, a younger girl who reminded me a little of Gavroche in Les Miserables. It really started to drag along here though.

The last few chapters were really good. I enjoyed reading what became of the characters that survived (and for two of them, pretty much reading about their whole lives). Sadly by this point I no longer cared for James, the main character that kept me reading in the beginning. I'm not sure if it had a happy ending but I do think it ended in the right place, with enough to keep me wondering what happens next. I think it's a standalone novel but if there were a sequel, I do think I would read it, especially if Liza made an appearance.

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