If you are looking for something which is similar in tone and theme to Kostova’s The Historian, this may be a good choice. It is set in historical times and focuses on vampires. James and Charlotte Norbury have spent most of their childhood without parents, so James relies on his big sister to teach him the alphabet and how to read.
In fact, English Literature is so entrenched in his being, that James eventually becomes a poet and even tries his hand at writing a play. When he is in his prime and studying in London away from home, he meets a gentleman named Christopher Paige, whom he decides to board with. Eventually, James can’t deny the feelings he has for his room mate and they start a secret affair. Just a day before they travel abroad to get away from prying eyes, they get attacked by a vampire. James’ world is changed forever and Charlotte must find out (the hard way) what has happened to her brother.
The vampires belong to The Aegolious Club and follow strict guidelines about who can become one of them. A Mr. Mould is part of the society (even though he is not a vampire), as far as doing research for them and occasionally performing autopsies on the un-dead or other unfortunate corpses. He is promised to be turned when the time is right but the group has become risky with their rules and have started to test their boundaries. Their nemesis is another group of vampires named The Alia, lead by Mrs. Price, who are a quirky set of individuals and are only looking for their fair share of what they deserve.
All in all, I enjoyed the writing and the characters but I feel that it did not play out how I imagined it would. There were two things that I wanted to know more about: the sister-brother bond between Charlotte and James and the exploration of James’ homosexuality. Unfortunately, these two issues fell short of my expectations and though it is almost clear that there will probably be a second book—I was still a bit disappointed how the plot spiraled downward towards the end.
To read reviews on The Quick, please click on the links below.
From The New York Times Sunday Review
From The Dallas News
For information about Lauren Owen, click here.
The following questions are aimed at helping you to start a conversation about the book:
-What literary influences do you see in The Quick?
-Why do the Club members refer to the living as the “Quick”?
For the rest of the questions (provided by Litlovers), click here to access them.
So, I was wondering about The Aegolious Club and whether or not it really was a secret society. Well, it turns out that this club was actually made up for the story but the idea for it was probably planted in the author’s mind due to the many “secret societies” that existed in London. One club was called The Order of Chaeronea (formed in 1897), where gay men would gather and socialize during a time when only a few years prior, they would have been sentenced with the death penalty. I thought discovering this particular club was quite fitting for The Quick, as this is relatively the time period that James was going through his struggles. Find out about The Order of Chaeronea and other interesting secret societies by clicking here.
This book reminded me of …
As I mentioned at the top, this novel can give you the same sense as Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian for obvious reasons. In A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, there is again the whole vampire theme, even though it takes place in contemporary times. As for Diane Setterfield’s Bellman & Black, the historical and Gothic feel of the book definitely is comparable, while two other titles came to mind because of certain parts in The Quick. For instance, The Alia totally remind me of the misfit group in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Finally, “Doctor Knife” or Mr. Mould makes me think of Sheri Holman’s The Dress Lodger because of the theme of autopsies in historical London.
Favorite quote from book:
“But as he sat and watched the fire, he was also uneasy. This was not what he was used to. Perhaps it was like being in a poorly lit room: you saw well enough, because your eyes were accustomed to it. But if someone brought in a lamp, everything was suddenly very bright—unpleasantly so at first. You might well hate the person with the light, for arriving so rudely and unannounced.” (p. 42)
Most surprising moment in the story:
When Shadwell and Adeline are faced with much more than they bargained for. (p. 399)
Next month’s title:
Bone & Bread by Saleema Nawaz