4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
This is going to be a fairly short review for two reasons: one, it’s hard to write about this book without giving much away, and two, I didn’t want to break away from the story by taking lots of notes, considering I had a huge break from reading it part way through.
My first impression was that I loved the setting. Starting in a big manor house in the Yorkshire countryside, The Quick is a modern work that echoes stories of the Victorian era. It’s evident that Lauren Owen knows her stuff (she has a Masters degree in Victorian Gothic Literature), and she skilfully creates a rather dark and foreboding tone, even during the early scenes of James and Charlotte’s childhood. The setting moves briefly onto Oxford and then London, all the time retaining the feeling that there is something around the corner, some big shocking moment just waiting to happen. And when the twist does appear – well that’s when the story begins to get very dark. It is wonderfully gloomy and Gothic, I had no trouble at all imagining the London streets filled with smog on a chilly night. Unfortunately I can’t explain much more without spoilers, so I will refrain from explaining myself further!
As for the characters, there is a big reveal to do with James about one hundred pages in that I just did not expect. It has you worrying about what the consequences might be for James, in this society that does not yet understand. One of my favourite parts of the book was the back story of Shadwell and Miss Swift, in itself a wonderful little Gothic story that really helped to build up the characters.
Unfortunately I ended up taking quite a long break (three or four weeks) between reading the first 25% or so, and the last 75% of the book. For the first week of that I just didn’t read at all, and when I got back to reading I moved on to some other books that had closer publication dates. It does make me wonder, if I had read the book all in one go, would I have rated it even more highly? I really did enjoy the story, but I think that because of the break I took in the middle, it felt like it dragged a bit. However, I most definitely cannot fault Lauren Owen’s gorgeous writing style, very evocative of the period in which it is set, and her skill at creating and weaving together multiple stories – the result of which is one beautifully Gothic novel that certainly keeps its secrets well hidden.
I also had the privilege of meeting the author, Lauren Owen, back at the end of April.