The Quick by Lauren OwenThe Quick by Lauren Owen
Narrator: Simon Slater
Published by Random House Audio on June 17, 2014
Genres: Horror
Length: 18 hrs 48 mins
Format: Audiobook
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1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.

The Quick was this year’s RIP read-along, co-hosted by The Estella Society and Amanda at Fig and Thistle. I listened to the audio version and to be honest, I found it a bit boring. It was slow and atmospheric, but even the “exciting” parts didn’t really grab my attention. I was kept waiting for something to happen and then when it did, it was rather anti-climactic.

Here are the discussion questions and my comments.

1. What genre (or genres) would you say THE QUICK falls into? What genre or author influences do you see in this book? I think it’s a mix between historical fiction and horror. There have been so many vampires over the years, but I think these fall more along the lines of Dracula and Anne Rice’s set, although not nearly as sexy as hers. They are definitely monsters.

2. Emily Richter figures into many of the book’s most pivotal early scenes. How much do you think she knows or doesn’t know about James and Christopher, and about Eustace’s change? I think she’s knows most, if not all, of what’s going on. She’s just smart enough to keep her mouth shut.

3. Did you notice the repetition of owls? What’s up with that? I only noticed it when discussing the oldest Club members. If there were other instances I missed them altogether.

4. Characters agree to the Exchange for different reasons. Are there any reasons that would tempt you to join the Aegolius Club? No. First off, I’m a woman and they are just going to destroy me. Second, their Club has no redeeming qualities.

5. Why do you think Mrs. Price turns children? How does their group compare to other family units in the book? Children are less noticed. They can do jobs for her that adults couldn’t do without attracting attention. Also, in theory at least, they’d be easier to control and even though they would be stronger than human children, I would assume they wouldn’t be as strong as an adult vampire. I do thin the kids made a kind of family, by necessity rather than loyalty maybe, but they fought like siblings. They needed to be part of a group more than the adults seemed to.

6. Why do the Club members refer to the living as the “Quick”? I forget. But it did remind me of the one version of the Apostle’s Creed that says, “He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” I think quick just used to mean alive.

7. How does Mould change over the course of the book? Do you think he remains a man of science to the end? He becomes more and more obsessed and his experiments become little more than torture. He care less and less for people, but knows  he is not valued by the Club. The fact that he keeps a secret notebook is telling.

8. Charlotte’s quiet life is altered drastically by the book’s events. In what ways does it change for the better? She gets to see the world. She is brave and capable. She is loved and trusted for who she is.

9. Had you heard of a priest hole before reading THE QUICK? Why do you think Owen chose to begin and end the book there? Yes, I had heard of priest holes before. I think it made a nice circle. Of course, though James spends a long period of time there both in the beginning and the end, in neither case is he trapped there forever.

10. The ending of THE QUICK seems to beg for a sequel. What do you think about it? I don’t know that I’d read a sequel. The characters I cared about are dead. I think when I finished listening to it, I may actually told my daughter not to bother reading it. I don’t think it really needs a sequel either, I kind of like the little bit of mystery left up in the air.

Did you read The Quick? Did you like it better than I did?

About Lauren Owen

Lauren Owen studied English Literature at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, before completing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where she received the 2009 Curtis Brown prize for the best fiction dissertation. The Quick is her first novel. She lives in Durham, England.


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