This review is for the audiobook version of The Quick, by Lauren Owen.
This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I don’t think that it’s what it thinks it is either. This is genre fiction that thinks it’s literary, with quirks that seem to scream “I’m different and unique,” when in fact it’s just another vampire story.
The blurb described the book as being about a woman, Charlotte, who goes to London after her brother disappears and discovers a few things, first that he found love in an unexpected place, and second that London is teeming with monsters. That is about a quarter of what is written, and probably would be a more interesting book. Instead it begins with Charlotte and her brother James as children, growing up on an estate in Yorkshire, moves on to their falling out, James going away to school, and then James moving to London to attempt some kind of career as a poet. **spoilers** There’s quite a build-up to James falling in love with his male roommate and then them trying to figure out how to make things work. James also writes a play, but this seems irrelevant for the most part, despite the time the author takes to describe his efforts. There’s also a secondary story coming from the journals of a tutor cum scientist studying vampires, and then a third story of a girl that is turned by a woman in a bakery. After some time, James and his lover decide to run away to Italy, but first they have to take his manuscript to Oscar Wilde. Unfortunately they are attacked by vampires outside his home, leaving one dead and one turned. Charlotte, having not heard from her brother in some time, decides to go to london and find him. Which she does. Unfortunately he is undead and dangerous, and also being hunted by the tutor and a club of vampires with a master plan of turning all the most important men in society so their genius is never lost. There’s a tightrope walker’s daughter, several working class vampires, a vampire that is also James’ lover’s brother, and an american that thought he wanted to be turned and changed his mind. Of course he and Charlotte band together, fight bad guys, and hide her brother in a priest hole in her childhood home before getting married and traveling the world, and then charlotte gets sick and dies.
I kept waiting for it to get better. I was never sure who we were supposed to be championing, or why. This is a fairly long book, 15 hours, and unfortunately made to sound like it was written in the 19th century, but it doesn’t quite manage it. This story could have used a lot of editing, to get the time span down, or to focus on one story rather than 500. It’s a rambling type of story, with no clear goal. The romances both feel forced and unnatural, neither seems a good match simply because none of them seem to actually like each other.
I think the author should have separated the stories out into several novels, rather than throw bits of several novels into one long incoherent ramble.