The Quick, Lauren Owen
Published June 17th 2014 by Random House
Hardcover, 544 pages
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.
The Quick struck me as a really lonely book. We meet James and Charlotte when they’re children with little supervision on their family estate. Their mother has died and their father is absent. A divide forms between the siblings and while they do love each other, they seem to never really connect again. They both just seemed to be such solitary and kind of angsty people. James doesn’t have true friends that we know of and Charlotte is stuck living with their elderly aunt. We flash forward to James as an adult and he’s found a way to be happy and is trying to live his life as a writer and then
Twist. We’ll just say this is no longer the sleepy gothic tale of 2 siblings but more of a horror story. We meet Dr. Knife, some terrifying street children and the above mentioned rope walker. I don’t want to say too much and give this away, but it was quite a twist. We get the story from then on in many perspectives which was a good change from being in just James and Charlotte’s heads. But still-all of these characters felt lonesome to me! They had some companionship, but very little affection or true connections between them.
The Quick seems to be a book that reviewers are sharply divided over and I almost wish I fell on one side of the debate. This was an okay read for me. This was definitely a well written book, but it felt really long and in the end I felt like it was too obvious what was going to happen to each of the characters we’d met. It seemed like the plot change in the middle took all the surprise out for me and I couldn’t stay invested after that. Despite all that I didn’t dislike the ending! That was definitely where I pictured the book going. While I definitely didn’t like all the new characters, I did like getting the full story. I also felt better that some of that sense of loneliness was dispelled in the end.
But this seems to be a 5 star read for a lot of reviewers so maybe I’m just missing something. Anyone else with an opinion on this one?
Thank you Random House and NetGalley for this advance read copy in exchange for an honest opinion.