An illicit love affair and blood-sucking aristocratic vampires, what more do you need in one book?
Told in five parts, The Quick, by British author Lauren Owen, follows the story of the young and naïve James, who is thrown into a world of London vampires pitted against East London vampires.
Set in Victorian England, Owen manages to portray the Britishness of the dreary era in the opening pages: “He was looking back at the hall – the unlit, uncurtained windows. She did not like the place in dusk any more. It was too melancholy.”
It could be said that part one, which focuses on James’s move from a bleak Yorkshire to a majestic London and his forbidden love affair, could have been a book in its entirety.
We are introduced to the lively and dashing Christopher Paige whose character is the opposite of the quiet, reserved James: “He had an air of enjoying himself tremendously – which James would later learn, was habitual.”
The romance between James and his lover would have been enough in itself as a sort of Romeo and Juliet-esque love story but Owen removes you from the beauty of the tragic love affair and places you in a violent and dangerous world.
Owen creatively introduces characters through diary entries, which slowly reveal what happened to the characters in part one and their role in the rest of the book.
These diary entries do become a bit tedious to read as who is writing them is not revealed in the main narrative.
Sometimes it is hard to keep up with the ever-increasing character list and who, and more importantly, what they are but it adds to the suspense created by Owen: “She had wiped the blood from her mouth, but there was a trace of it – or something else red – showing on her jagged and uneven teeth.”
There are similarities between other vampire novels including The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, and it’s hard to see any unique qualities in The Quick but nevertheless Owen keeps the suspense high.
She moves away from the contemporary (and boring) ‘happy, glittering, love-thirsty’ vampires and brings back the original ruthless, blood-sucking, murdering ones which are far more interesting.
The Quick is Owen’s debut novel who has already revealed a sequel is in progress.
With unexpected twists and turns throughout each chapter, it brings back the beauty and violence of the vampire novel and will make you constantly question ‘what will happen next?’