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.
Review: I was really quite surprised by this book. Despite the description, I picked up the book thinking it was a mystery – girl looks for missing brother – possibly with elements of erotica. What I did not expect was vampires. Now reading the book’s blurb, I can see I totally missed the intent. However, this is not your typical vampire novel.
James Norbury moves to London upon his graduation and finds the city grimy and dark and not much to his liking. He eventually meets Christopher Paige and begins to see the city through different eyes. I loved the way James’ character changed from dark to light as he fell in love. Even after he is bitten, he holds that light of love for Christopher.
Charlotte Norbury has a lesser role, guiding James as the older sister then seeking him out when he goes missing. Charlotte has the strong character I imagine women of that time must have had. She cares for the estate after James leaves, then tends to her ailing aunt, and finally, travels to London on her own to begin the search for her brother. Even more so, rather than run home at the first glimpse of what her brother has become, she fights to save him.
The other characters in the book – Adeline, Shadwell, Mould – are just as well-written. There is enough background to learn why the characters have become what they are and why they act the way they do. Adeline and Shadwell are what you might call the Guardians of the Truth. They collect information on vampires and protect innocent humans from them. Mould, aka Doctor Knife, is the creepy monster of the book, a sort of cross between Dr. Frankenstein and Mr. Hyde, who wants to dissect and experiment.
While the ending was not quite a surprise, it was a good ending nonetheless. It allows the story to have that OMG moment as a stand-alone book or leaves room for a sequel. Either way works for me. The Quick is a fascinating story that kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime.