The Quick: A Novel, by Lauren Owen, (Random House) 544 pages
I think it’s safe to say that Lauren Owen’s The Quick will be the big vampire book of the season. It’s got pretty much everything a reader could ask for. First, it has multiple plot lines that initially feel disconnected, but that move disturbingly closer and closer together until they intersect—and then the real action starts. It’s got an old family mansion that’s slowly decaying because there’s no money for repairs. It has multiple kinds of vampires, vampire hunters, and human hangers-on of the vampire world. Most of it is set in Victorian London. And one of the buildings in that London is a little-known, mysterious men’s club at which the curtains are always drawn and which is lit only by individual candles behind thick green-glass shades.
Owen riffs effectively on existing vampire lore, following some of the established “rules,” but adding her own interesting flourishes. The book is familiar enough to fit right into the genre, but unfamiliar enough to add to its page-turning appeal—a good thing as it’s over five hundred pages long.
The action is jam-packed; after a more languorous beginning, most of the novel takes place over part of a single week. The character development isn’t nuanced, but it’s there. The development is most effective in the final chapter, in which we experience more of the interior lives of two of the central characters over the course of fifty or so years.
If you’re looking for a hefty beach or airplane read that will provide you with substantial entertainment, you really can’t go wrong with The Quick.