Monday, May 12, 2014

Blog Tour Review: The Quick by Lauren Owen

From the Back Cover:

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. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him.

In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins 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 one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

My Thoughts:

Well, that back cover blurb is rather vague, isn't it? I believe it's intentional so as not to spoil the suspense and mystery surrounding the dangers at the heart of this story, so I will do my best to tell you how I felt about this book without giving any of the plot away!

First and foremost, The Quick is beautifully written. It begins with James and Charlotte, two young orphans living in seclusion on their crumbling country estate, creating games and challenges for each other to while away their lonely days, and forming an unbreakable bond of love and reliance. But as they grow older, James is sent off to school, leaving Charlotte behind with naught but a cranky, elderly aunt for company. After school, James elects to stay in London and see if he can make a career as a writer. At this point, Charlotte has been consigned to the role of nursemaid for their ailing aunt, but she never begrudges her darling brother the opportunity to better his life and see all that the world has to offer. She lives vicariously through his long letters and the books he sends her--until the day his letters stop coming. Convinced that something has happened to James, Charlotte bravely sets out in search of answers, arriving in a London that both overwhelms and frightens her. But she is determined, and with the help of a few new unexpected and unlikely allies, she soon discovers that something sinister is going on in the dark streets of London. As she retraces her brother's footsteps, the timid country girl comes face-to-face with evils and horrors previously unimaginable, and it's going to take every ounce of her strength, her determination, and her newfound bravery to save James before it's too late.

There were really only two things that detracted from my complete enjoyment of the story. One is the pacing. It's rather uneven. It's a long book, coming in at over 500 pages, and there were parts that had me biting my nails and flipping through the pages as fast as I could to see what would happen, but the majority of the book moved very slowly. There's a lot of lead time to set things in place. I did find myself skimming in some places, particularly in the second half. Second is the introduction of new point-of-view characters late in the game. I found the shifts to be rather jarring, and because it took awhile for the threads to become connected and for me to figure out how these new characters related to each other and the story, it felt like the book was meandering. And now that I think of it, I wasn't a huge fan of the ending either. At first I thought it was great. I reached the end of a chapter that I thought was also the end of the book and felt satisfied and pleased, but then I turned the page and discovered another chapter, and I didn't think the book needed it. Seemed to taint a bit of the happiness I had with the first ending and then seemed to erase the closure I'd thought I had.

But as I said, aside from my issues with the construction and pacing, the writing is gorgeous. The description of time and place is effortless and evocative, and beneath the mystery and suspense is an undercurrent of progress, the clashing of the old ways with the new as England embraces the Industrial Revolution and as women embrace nontraditional roles, and that made for a very interesting juxtaposition of characters, story, and ambiance. The Quick is well worth a look for fans of Victorian and Gothic literature.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
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Wanna win your own copy of The Quick?
Simply leave a comment on this post with your email address, and you're entered!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US and ends at 11:59pm Sunday, May 25, 2014. Winner will be selected at random.
Thanks, and good luck!

The Quick is on a blog tour!
View the tour schedule


  1. Pacing issues can drive me bonkers but I guess it's tough to keep tension going constantly. I bet my mom would love this book. kathy(at)

  2. Don't count me in but thanks for the review on this one.

  3. At over 500 pages I can see that it might be a bit of a slog but I think I'd enjoy the historical aspect and the mystery sounds pretty good. I'd really like to win a copy. Thanks carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  4. I can overlook pacing if the writing is well-done, and it sounds like it is! Thanks so much for the giveaway!!

  5. This book would be memorable and special. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. What a captivating novel. A treasure to enjoy. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  7. got me at 'vanishes without a trace'!!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

    Thank you for the chance!!

  9. Would love to read this book.

  10. Great review!

  11. This sounds like a fascinating read! Thanks for the giveaway.

    mdcast1972 at gmail dot com

  12. sounds good! thanks for the giveaway ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  13. Well written keeps my attention even if it has pacing problems. Would love to give it a try.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  14. Sounds fascinating! I would love to win a copy of this one!

  15. Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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