Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Quick – review

Author: Lauren Owen

First published: 2014

Contains spoilers

The blurb: 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.

The review: My vamp-dar was clearly functioning. I saw a poster for the Quick (which was just of the UK cover) and it piqued my interest. I had a quick look online and read that it was gothic fiction and the blurb above. I decided to buy it and discovered, a hundred pages in, that what I had was a vampire novel.

Having said that, and re-reading the blurb, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Quick, of the title, refers to the vampires of the story but it does not. The Quick are us, the ordinary mortals. The book rambles along for the first 100 pages, exploring the world of young siblings James and Charlotte. It reads like a fine gothic novel with not a hint of the supernatural. The novel moves forward in time through this section and James has left university and moved to London and then we hit part two of the novel and immediately, we are confronted with the vampires of this book.

The vampires refer to themselves as undead or those of the Club do, aristocratic and well to do vampires – gentlemen only; women are never turned. There are vampires that come from the poor and they call themselves undid (an accented corruption of the word). The vampires are cold (not only to touch but they feel permanently cold and crave warmth – though fire would eventually destroy them). They are not killed by sunlight but the brightness overwhelms them, as does the noise of humanity (physical and mental), They can confound a human by the mazement, their form of mind control, and a human bitten by a vampire finds it impossible to communicate the attack. Turning is done by exchange of blood and must be agreed to (or so they believe). Holy water makes them weak, silver burns them and they must be invited into a home.

The book was a wonderful read, there was an authenticity to the prose that summoned thoughts of the gothic novel. There are some beautifully drawn characters but, if I have to criticise, it is perhaps that the ending felt almost rushed after the more detailed (and perhaps rambling) first 4/5s of the novel. It is a goodly sized tome, weighing in at over 500 pages. That said I really did enjoy my time in the world of the Quick, I hope that Owen sees fit to explore some of this world once again. 8 out of 10.

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