QuickThis week’s Weekly Read is one of the most surprising and entertaining novels I have read in a long time: The Quick by Lauren Owen.

First, The Quick is a genre novel and that genre is clearly in the vein of well, the vein of a gothic novel, a Victorian mystery, a little bit Sherlock, a chunk of Jack the Ripper, some Dickens, a little bit Harry Potter, a little Interview with the Vampire and well, just a mash up of all manner of things in a big pot of crazy cool.

What starts out as a Victorian-era story of class and manners quickly becomes a surreal exploration of a dark world. It sounds like it could be a train wreck, but in the capable hands of Ms. Owen – a first time novelist no less – we are treated to a beguiling and entertaining (and totally creepy) world beyond our own imaginations.

About The Quick by Lauren Owen: “For fans of Anne Rice, The Historian, and The Night Circus, an astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London. 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. In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.”

I’ll be honest. The Quick did not end up being the book I was hoping it would be. I was drawn to it by reading the first chapter and thought I was in for a pleasant novel about a quirky group of characters in Victorian London. However, even though it was not what I was expecting – it was surprising and entertaining in ways I could have never anticipated. Which means it was better than I hoped.

The Quick by Lauren Owen is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.