Author: Lauren Owen
Published: First published 3rd April 2014; above edition published 4th September 2014. Vintage Books.
Genre: Historical Fiction, paranormal
Read more about it on
4 out of 5 stars
Sifting through and collecting my thoughts on The Quick has been a little difficult, and has left me feeling a little overwhelmed – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is an intriguing novel, which I very much enjoyed. Set in Victorian England – which I love as I enjoy reading about this era – Owen has created a setting which often has an eerie and gothic feel. Feeling overwhelmed I believe may be due to being flooded with many viewpoints during a large part of the book, and then bouncing through time.
The Quick begins with siblings Charlotte and James’ childhood, which enables you to see their sibling bond as children, and how that has continued as they grew up (you also get to learn about their home). The book then contains sections which are entries from a diary of sorts, that skips through time – I thought this was a clever way to progress through the years, but it can also leave you with the feeling of being swept away through the story, sometimes. This along with multiple viewpoints, then jumping forward many years, altogether can leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed. This did not prevent me from enjoying the book though! It’s just for me personally, I prefer it when there are not too many viewpoints.
I liked seeing James’ relationship with his flatmate Christopher unfold. It was nice seeing James – who is a bit of an introvert – make a friend who isn’t his sister.
“James thought, proud and wondering: This is my friend. Only now did he realise how solitary his life had been before.”
There was something quite beautiful about James and Christophers’ relationship; how it steadily grew and developed into something other than friendship. It was incredibly sad that their relationship was viewed as wrong by the many, and that they had to keep it a secret. It is difficult to not reveal any spoilers here, but I was heartbroken when this part of the story ended.
Many lives intersect in the story being the reason for many viewpoints, I guess. It is also very much a tale of how rapidly and significantly ones life can change, simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In the beginning it is James’ viewpoint that the reader will mainly see through. Although it is not filled with action, there is a nice flow to the story. The word that comes to mind is subtlety; I’m not sure this entirely makes sense, but it is the word that most comes to mind. There’s a nice subtlety to the book, then, BAM! In enters vampires to the story. Initially it seems to be only a romance novel but then mythical creatures are occupying the story. It felt almost like I was thrown into a completely different story, and although you get to see more of James, I found myself missing Christopher. This feeling of being thrown into a new story, reflecting on it now, I believe adds a realistic feel. If this were to happen in real life, it would be abrupt and sudden and the world as you knew it would change significantly. And this is what I like about The Quick, there is a ‘realness’ to it. It is not overly sensationalised and I feel like Owen has taken back the vampire novel from what we see today. Although, there is nothing wrong with how vampires are portrayed in books, nowadays. I feel though that Owen has created a more classic feel with her book, which has in turn created a more real and gothic novel. I enjoyed the fact that the relationships in the book also felt real. There was no ‘insta-love’, but instead relationships that were both real and endearing.
Now, to the very ending… What an ending it was! I found myself turning the pages hoping that the next part of the story would magically appear – one can hope right? What. A. Cliffhanger! I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment.
The Quick is classic, intriguing, tragic at times and interwoven with a few heartbreaking beautiful moments. All in all, a captivating and clever read.