Booklist Reviews 2014 May #2
Owen's strong debut infuses the classic Victorian-set horror novel with many original, bloody twists. It begins at a decaying Yorkshire mansion, the childhood home of James Norbury and his sister, Charlotte, and later moves over to London. Here James, a new Oxford grad, plans to hone his poetry-writing skills. Then, suddenly, what seems to be a gothic saga transforms into an intricate, sinister epic involving many unique personalities, immense personal danger, unexpected love, and an unusual pursuit of scientific advancement—all centering on the exclusive Aegolius Club. Revealing any more would be a spoiler. With her startling plot, Owen proves a master at anticipating readers' thoughts about future happenings and then crumbling them into dust. Her world building is exceptional, and readers will simultaneously embrace and shrink from the atmosphere's elegant ghastliness, but the novel's structure is uneven—it feels overlong in places—and she devotes regrettably little time to her most intriguing characters. It's an impressive feat, nonetheless, one with the potential to attract a cult (and occult) following this summer. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 April #2
Charlotte and James Norbury, abandoned to the servants' care by their father after their mother's death, grow up relying on each other on the decaying estate of Aiskew in Yorkshire. James, an aspiring poet, moves to London in 1892 and finds his only real friend in young aristocrat Christopher Paige. But then James vanishes suddenly, compelling Charlotte to search for her brother in an unfamiliar city. She soon uncovers a frightening connection between her brother's disappearance and the Aegolius Club, a mysterious, exclusive society whose members are not only elite and powerful but also extremely dangerous. Owen's debut is an intriguing blend of historical, gothic, and supernatural fiction. Readers will be especially engaged by the author's memorable characters, particularly Adeline, a tightrope walker-turned-avenger, and her partner Shadwell. Owen's wonderful atmospheric writing is evocative of Victorian London. VERDICT Though abrupt transitions to a different point of view and time period detract from the flow of the story, this will appeal to devotees of the macabre and gothic set in the Victorian period, especially those who enjoy Charles Palliser's Rustication and David Morrell's Murder as a Fine Art. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/13.]—Barbara Clark-Greene, Groton P.L., CT[Page 79]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 March #2
Though currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, vampires as we know them are a Victorian invention: Dracula came out in 1897. Debut author Owen sets her seductive book in 1892, in a late-Victorian London with a serious vampire problem. And like her Victorian counterparts, Owen depicts a host of characters: there's shy, provincial poet James Norbury and his intrepid sister Charlotte; vampire hunters Adeline Swift and Shadwell; a rich American in danger; and Augustus Mould, who researches vampire myth and fact on behalf of the vampires, and who's as warm and friendly as his name suggests. The vampire world is divided: the elite men of the Aegolius club coexist, not happily, with a ragged band of underclass undead. The book's pleasures include frequent viewpoint shifts that require readers to figure out how each character fits into the story, new riffs on vampire rituals and language, plus several love affairs, most of which are doomed. And there's plenty of action—Mould's research, the clubmen's recruitment efforts, escalating battles between vampires and vampire hunters and among the vampires, and Charlotte's efforts to save James. Though the book has an old-fashioned, leisurely pace, which might cause some reader impatience, Owen's sentence-by-sentence prose is extraordinarily polished—a noteworthy feat for a 500-page debut—and she packs many surprises into her tale, making it a book for readers to lose themselves in. (June)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC