The Quick by Lauren Owen is “an astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London.” (cover blurb)
It’s 1892 and James Norbury, newly graduated from Oxford and ready to try his hand at poetry, follows a friend into high society, encounters trouble in a private club, and vanishes after a brawl and bite from a stranger. His best friend is dead. There is a supernatural city of evil, and James is caught in the middle. A chilling character, Doctor Knife, is researching all manner of creatures. James’ sister Charlotte arrives in London to find and save her brother. She’s drawn into the gothic mystery and soon must fear for her life too. The Quick – folks who are not undead, but do shed blood for answers walk a fine line in underground London.
Ultimately, Charlotte finds her brother within “the doors of the exclusive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.” (cover blurb)
This book is well written and well-paced. It’s eerie and creepy in a good way. This is not a Twilight vampire book, nor is it Anne Rice’s Lestat and crew. It’s more highbrow and energetic. It fleshes out the characters and describes the underbelly of London. Kudos to Lauren Owen for her debut novel – The Quick. I’d read it with the lights on and perhaps a fire in the fireplace. Easy to feel chilled, and a bit thirsty too.
A brief note on Lauren Owen’s bio – I’m jealous. She was born in 1985, studied at Oxford and the University of East Anglia. She received the 2009 Curtis Brown Prize for best fiction dissertation. The Quick is her first and no doubt, not last novel.