The Quick by Lauren Owen

The Quick: A Novel - Lauren Owen


This book had two plot twists – one major, one minor - unfolding themselves very, very early into the story – within the first 100 pages, in fact - and such books are therefore rather difficult to review without giving too much away. But since it’s been out for a while, either you know of it already or you don’t. I was in the latter category, because the moment I found out that there were PLOT TWISTS, I delved headlong into the book in a blind, reckless fashion, knowing nothing except the title and the cover, which should give you a (rather useless) clue. Big clue alert: Don’t look up the genres.

As historical fiction this was beautifully written, the kind that takes the reader back in time (and space) to 19th century old London town, with the glitter of the wealthy and the grit of the slums, when Queen Victoria reigned on her and Oscar Wilde wrote his plays. This is the best feature of the book.

And that’s all I can tell you that is spoiler-free. Proceed with caution.

About 50 pages into the book I abruptly realised that the main characters were gay, and had this horrified what-have-I-done moment because while I am empathetically not against same-gender relationships (my stance leans towards a couldn’t-care-less, none-of-my-business lackadaisical attitude) – that said, I did not sign up to read an entire book on it, you know? Then I thought about it and figured that a same-gender relationship set against the backdrop of that repressed Victorian era in which such depravity – if you’d pardon the term – were looked askance upon, for which Oscar Wilde famously ruined his life and career, could potentially be interesting. It will also inevitably end with tears that aren’t mine. *cue evil laughter* I might actually read a whole book on that.

So I decided to hold off the DNF status.

And then around page 100 the story suddenly switched tracks entirely and became a story about vampires (and here I’d been thinking that particular hype had fizzled out. Damn. How wrong I was.) While the story wasn’t entirely uninteresting, it did not add anything new to the genre either. Everything’s been done before, most notably by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which also took place in the 1800s. The Quick even utilises a similar journal entry narrative style when it came to this part, and the vampires were the traditional versions as per folklore beliefs, eg fear of garlic, steel, inability to enter houses without invitation, ability to heal quickly, etc – which were admittedly preferable to *sparkles*, to me at least.

At over 500 pages it’s far too long for a story that could be told in half the length.

(show spoiler)