Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Quick

The Quick
Lauren Owen
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-8129-9327-1
544 pages

Surprisingly, most people have some knowledge about vampires.   For being fictional characters, in general, we have common "facts" about their existence such as their aversion to silver and holy water and that they must be "invited" into a residence.  For creatures that do not exist, we certainly do have quite a bit of knowledge.
What if there is some truth to their existence?   Wouldn't that be more sensible?   Is the idea of a vampire all legend, or is there some small grain of truth?
In the last part of the nineteenth century much of England was beginning to change.  Many families who had inherited grand estates were beginning to feel the financial pinch of daily upkeep for appearances of grandeur.  
For Charlotte and James Norbury, this was true as they spent much of their childhood isolated at the crumbling family estate outside of London.   Charlotte being older, took it upon herself to educate her younger brother since they were motherless and their father was frequently absent only coming home to die.
Fortunately, James was able to attend Oxford and discovered a love for reading and writing poetry.  However, poets do not usually profit financially.   While attending a play in London, James saw the brilliance of Oscar Wilde and immediately dreamed of becoming a playwright.
Dreams don't pay bills.
James was fortunate in that a friend of his knew of an aristocrat who was looking for a roommate.  It seemed the perfect solution.  This new acquaintance though opened James to the world of the upper echelon of people who are not always as sincere as they seem.  Besides that, there are numerous secrets that are intriguing to his natural curiosity.
When James no longer answers the letters from his sister, Charlotte, she waits for quite some time until she decides that she must go to London to find, or rescue, her little brother.   What she didn't plan on finding were the back alleys where the notorious Jack the Ripper was becoming infamous.
The Quick is an unusual novel in that the paranormal almost sneaks into the story without being obvious.  Charlotte's search for her brother is the basic thrust of the novel catapulting the na├»ve spinster into the dark back streets with the corrupted, immoral and poor people of the time intertwining vampires and the undead into the mix.
In much the same unsettled style of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, The Quick is a haunting tale.   Except for Charlotte, most of the characters are realistically flawed and not likable.  The writing style is at times rambling, but there is an unusual undercurrent that keeps the story flowing and making it impossible to put down.
The Quick is a haunting tale with a fresh twist making this story memorable.

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