Lucky me, The Quick was an absolute gem and completely deserving of being called a Wilkie Collins-like novel about Victorian vampires. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, because this book is best read with a sense of anticipating dread. If I tell you who you will meet and what will happen I will ruin the entire novel. Instead I’m going to hit some highlights and then implore you to read The Quick straightaway. In fact, I lent my copy of The Quick to my friend Catherine the day after I completed the novel and she read the first section at night, outdoors, while waiting for our concert to begin. It is just that good.
1. Atmospheric writing without being overwrought. Fog, darkness, creeping damp, silence, murmurs, darkness, owls, dust, secrets, coppery blood, old papers and books lurk throughout the novel, but it isn’t overdone. There is just enough atmosphere to make the reader wary and alert, but cozy too. I guess what I’m saying is this is best read under a blanket, with a steaming mug tea beside you, and the rain pattering outside, but be forewarned that when your husband asks what’s for dinner you’ll need to be careful to not jump and upset said tea.
2. Female badassery. Most of the principal characters are male, but the women in the book are badass. They take care of themselves and know what they want and need. They are fully fleshed out characters and not there to be merely a love interest.
3. Love. There is some romance, but it doesn’t take away from the story. I hate it when people are in the middle of something epic and then pause to make-out or say cheesy things to each other. Time is of the essence, people! We have no time for extended lovemaking. There are things to slay.
4. The time period is perfectly reflected. This isn’t a plot spoiler, but the Dickensian street urchin vampires were my absolute favorite characters. The carriages, homes, and customs all ring authentic. Nothing felt anachronistic.
5. The characters and ideas of the book are not sacrificed for plot. This book is a page turner, but I never felt that characters were introduced to move the plot. The characters felt true and authentic. This novel also says a great deal about the human condition; especially in regards to one of the main vampires and his human-scientist accomplice. They start out with high minded ideals and plans for the betterment of society and end with an absence of compassion for humanity and horrific involvement in a sort of vampire eugenics plan.
This was a perfect autumn read and I will certainly look forward to reading more from Lauren Owen!