REVIEW: The Quick by Lauren Owen


The Quick by Lauren Owen

I’m really struggling with my writing.  My reviews are getting some ‘likes’ on Amazon but I go back and read them and think “Yikes, did I say that?!!”  So I did two reviews for The Quick by Lauren Owen. One is the way I’ve been writing and the other I used more of a template idea to give more depth.  I like the second one better!

meh, 2 stars. Parts were GOOD but most of it was slooooooow. Too many characters and the action jumped around from different viewpoints with other snippets of narrative thrown in willy nilly. I can see the authors reasoning as these bits & pieces were to build the plot and carry the story but she was too heavy handed and vague to make it work. There was some blood but no really scary stuff. One nice subplot about the vampire and his ‘lover’ that was unexpected-it was so good it should have been a stand alone book of its own. This is Lauren Owen’s first novel and it shows. Great story idea but I wish her editor had taken her more in hand and tightened this up into the book it should have been. I wanted to love this book but just…meh.

This is the one I really like-it’s getting closer to where I want to be.

TITLE:  The Quick
AUTHOR:  Lauren Owen
RATING:  2 stars

I’m always a sucker for a good vampire novel and one that weighs in at 544 pages seemed just the ticket.

Set in the late 1800’s, The Quick begins as the story of James Norbury.  He leaves the family estate and moves to London to pursue his literary career.  James meets various supernatural folk in the hidden paranormal world hiding in plain sight, including the creepy “Doctor Knife” and  then…not much happens.  Various vampiric activities, secret societies, rituals, some blood, some biting, a few killings, traces of humanity show through the fangs, no trace of humanity remains, coffins, sunlight, etc etc…ho hum.

I wanted so badly to love this book-the premise and first few chapters were wonderful:  a totally different twist on vampires.  Reminiscent of Anne Rice as we are drawn into a richly detailed world.  Lauren Owen has done a massive amount of research and the attention to every period detail shows.   She is so good at creating memorable characters and the book is chock full of both the familiar and a few originals to the genre.

Therein lies the problem I had with The Quick:  Lauren Owen is so good at CREATING memorable characters that the book was full of so many people appearing and disappearing on the canvas that the plot became secondary to the overwhelming array of intriguing characters.  Too many players/not enough stage.  I wish Owen would have tightened her story focus onto a smaller group and really let us get to know them.

I felt like she had so much invested in these people that she just HAD to get them all into the book.  The issue then becomes a large cast that is unwieldy to manipulate through the storyline.  The narrative becomes disjointed and when Owen tried to break the story apart into bits and pieces of other characters’ viewpoints it only became more confusing.

The reader only gets the broadest descriptions so the story keeps moving, but I wanted to know much much more about the secondary players.  Doctor Knife in particular could have been given so much more back story and page time-he had the potential to be one of the scariest characters in a novel not written by Stephen King and Owen missed the opportunity.

It wasn’t all bad, I did enjoy ‘most’ of the book when I could keep track of who was doing what and why.  The one thing I really enjoyed was the totally unexpected romance for James.  So well written and definitely NOT what I expect of the usual vampire books.  This story would have made a wonderful book all by itself, just exploring that plot with those two characters.

This is the first novel by Lauren Owen and I would like to see how she and her editors handle her next book, she is definitely on my must read list, at least once more.

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