Book Review: The Quick by Lauren Owen

After graduating from Cambridge in 1892, aspiring poet James Norbury moves to London, where he rents a set of rooms with the aristocratic Christopher Paige (sp?). Christopher introduces him to high society, taking him into upper-class dinner parties and drawing rooms, where James finds an unlikely love. His new position also leads him to the Aegolius Club, one of London’s most exclusive (and sinister) societies. When James disappears, his sister Charlotte comes to London to search for him, teaming up with an unusual pair of vigilantes.

This is about as much information as the copy on the back of the book gives away. I usually try not to spoil anything the reader could find out from the cover blurb, but I’m going to break my rule in this case because I really wish, before reading The Quick, that I had known more about it. The spoiler I’m sharing comes out in the first 100 pages, and it’s REALLY central to the novel. If you don’t wish to be spoiled, skip to the end of the review.


So the members of the Aegolius Club? They’re vampires. And in a case of mistaken identity, James is turned into a vampire, despite there being strict rules against changing someone without his consent. When Charlotte arrives in London and learns of her brother’s fate, she teams up with a pair of vampire fighters to retrieve her brother from the club and hopefully restore him to his human form. There’s also a competing faction of non-Aegolius vampires in the mix.

When I realized that this is vampire novel, I had a major “wait, hold the phone” moment. The cover copy makes no indication that there is anything supernatural going on in this novel. If it had, I honestly probably wouldn’t have read it. But in the spirit of reading more diversely this year, I decided to keep going. I’ve never read a gothic fantasy novel, so why not try it out? Maybe I’d like it. However, this wasn’t the case

I think I understand the publisher’s reason for marketing this book they way they are, but I don’t necessarily agree with their logic. The Quick is probably more literary than the typical fantasy/paranormal novel, so the publisher hoped to market it toward literary fiction readers. However, if they promoted it as a vampire novel, lit fic readers might not give it a chance. Honestly, I thought this was really sneaky, and not in a good way. While it did get me to read something I wouldn’t have otherwise considered, I didn’t enjoy the experience, and I think my negative perception is partly due to my feelings of being “tricked” into reading a genre I’m not interested in.


Going into The Quick, I expected a Gothic novel full of vibrant characters, danger, and intrigue. While it did have those things, it also had a huge element that I wasn’t ready for. Because this book was so different from what I expected and what I usually read, it’s really hard to review.. With books like this, it’s hard to tell whether the book is actually not good, or whether I’m just the wrong audience for it. However, I did thinkt there were too many characters, and I had trouble keeping them straight. There were also some issues with the pacing and shifting perspectives, and the end was super predictable.

I’m really curious to hear from other people who have read this book. How did you feel about the twist? If The Quick is different from what you typically read, did you like it?

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Quick by Lauren Owen

  1. I was surprised by the twist, but in the spirit of books like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, was kind of excited for it. But I didn’t think the author took advantage of the card she laid out and the book just ended up boring me.

  2. I did read the spoilers, but only because I already knew what was coming. I was planning to read this one but Rebecca gave me a heads up because I’m not a vampire fan (except maybe The Historian). What’s interesting about the way it’s advertised is that it’s fairly common. I recently read an interview with an author who talked about who makes the cover blurbs and why they are not always accurate. I’ll have to go find it….

  3. I’m reading it at the moment, and I felt like you at the “subject” of the book.
    But it was such unexpected that I found it like a great twist. I still don’t now about the end, but well, I’ll tell you my entire thoughts soon 🙂
    PS: when the twist came, I looked closer at the cover and I really understood it :PP

  4. I felt just like you about this book – there had been some hints of paranormal or supernatural, so I just expected it to be a bit of a ghost story, a Victorian Gothic tale, a tale of forbidden love etc. And the first part was quite well written and intriguing – but then it was downhill all the way. Gory and a bit silly.

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