by Lauren Owen Published by Random House Publishing Group
on 2014-06-17 Source: TLC Book Tours Pages:
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In the late 1800’s, James Norbury leaves his family’s large country estate behind for the bustling streets of London. Soon, he is wrapped up in a new friendship and the city’s high society, hoping to jump-start his writing career. Just as his new life is about to take off he disappears mysteriously, causing his sister Charlotte to come searching for him. Instead of answers, however, Charlotte finds herself pulled into a fantastical world lurking just below the London’s surface.
The Quick starts gorgeous. When asked early in my reading, the first comparison that came to mind was Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, as it shares a similar setting on a Victorian estate and the same rich language. But then there’s the twist. About a quarter through, the story is turned on its head and pushed far away from Gilbert’s sprawling novel. As a fairly diverse reader, I was almost excited by the chance to dip into something a little outside my comfort zone and continued to cross my fingers that this would be the book I’d been looking forward to for months.
Certainly, straddling the line between literary and genre fiction is no easy task, but I couldn’t help feeling like Owen was holding back. There is a sense that she is trying mightily to avoid genre tropes, which could have worked had she given readers more information about the world she created. There were dozens of questions I had regarding certain aspects of the club, but kept finding pages of new locations or characters that never felt central to the story. Given the surprise subject of the The Quick, I was so disheartened to find myself bored for a majority of the novel.
While I’ll be looking forward to Lauren Owen’s next book, as her writing is very strong, too much of The Quick felt like a missed opportunity for it to be an enjoyable debut.
What was your last highly anticipated book that was a letdown?