The Quick by Lauren Owen – A Review

18050175This is one of those novels where you’re not quite sure where it’s going… and when you get there, it can be hit or miss as to whether you like the destination you’ve arrived at. Fortunately, I really enjoyed where we wound up. Part Gothic novel, part supernatural mystery, The Quick begins with a familiar proposition – two children and a British estate that has seen better days. Charlotte and her younger brother, James, who we meet at an early age, lead a solitary existence following the death of their mother. Their father, is also an absent figure, preferring to avoid his children, thus leaving them to spend their days exploring the grounds of their formidable home. It is only when James heads off to school (Oxford, obviously), and later London, that things start to diverge from the usual Gothic novel formula.

I don’t want to divulge any more- to do so would ruin the sneaky little plot twist that turns this book topsy turvy. Needless to say, you are either going to love it, or have a “WTF” moment.

Other thoughts on this novel: a little bit long and slow in places, it would be easy to put this one down until you get through the first third or so, however it is totally worth sticking with it.  Owen’s writing also conveys a wonderful fog-enshrouded atmosphere that I stayed with me throughout the book. Unlike some period pieces, she is consistent and you never get an accidental glimpse of the 20th century through language or description of the scene at hand. A definite must for anyone who likes something a little spooky and Victorian. Anyway, that is enough for me– you’ll just have to read it yourselves!

Available for pre-order on Amazon, and on shelves June 17, 2014.

xo The Book Bird

Disclaimer: An advance copy of this book was provided for review by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

I Sincerely Doubt This House is Haunted….

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Like many gothic house novels John Boyne’s “This House is Haunted” left me feeling far from chilled. Having come off the creepy ride that was Marisha Pessl’s “Night Film” and the excellent “After Her” by Joyce Maynard, I was hoping that “This House is Haunted” would require me to keep a light on while I read, however I was sorely disappointed.

Let’s be real– writing a gothic novel that centers around a decrepit, possibly haunted, house is hard. In my experience as a reader I have only encountered one or two novels that have done this well. While I was willing to forgive Boyne for not living up to this part of the bargain, the complete blandness of his characters made me put this one down after about 30%. I mean this in the kindest way possible, but some authors should stick to writing protagonists who share their gender.

Unfortunately life is too short to waste time on mediocre novels. Will I ever know if the house was haunted? Probably not. Do I care? No, not really.

“This House is Haunted” will be available from retailers October 8th, 2013.

xo The Book Bird

Disclaimer: An advance copy of this novel was provided to me for review by the publisher via NetGalley.