Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quicksilver by Amanda Quick

Someone is killing off glasslight readers and Virginia Dean is next on the list.

Owen Sweetwater has been hired by Jones & Jones to look into the deaths of the glasslight readers when he finds Virginia half-awake from a drugged sleep and lying beside the murdered body of Lord Hollister.

He knows who she is, once seeing her at a session intended to determine if her talent is real or fake -- and admired the way she handled that situation. Owen admires even more the way Virginia is handling this situation -- as they struggle to find their way out of the labyrinth of glass, they stumble upon a clockwork device that emanates psychical energy.

Thus Amanda Quick sets the stage for her latest story set in the Arcane world of Victorian England.

Virginia and Owen both possess considerable talent that happen to complement each other in this particular investigation. Wanting to find out how she fits into the plot, Virginia decides to assist Owen in his investigation.

Quick expertly mixes mystery, suspense with a bit of "magic" and a bit of "romance" -- I enjoyed reading the procedural aspect of the novel. Readers new to Quick should be forewarned that her romances are not typical -- she has a very Victorian/intellectual approach to building the relationship of her characters.

I really liked how calm and collected Virginia is -- she has an amazing supernatural gift and one that she uses to help others (though she does profit from it). She's very careful and very thoughtful -- she's not pretty but her features seem very distinct: red-gold hair and blue-green eyes (p. 21) -- also that she is "on the shelf" (p. 67).

Owen is the more interesting of the pair, Amanda Quick presents another family of talents (comparable to the Jones and Winters families) -- the Sweetwaters have a very specific set of talents, one that sets them apart figuratively and literally. They are not members of the Arcane Society but they have a working relationship with members of the Arcane. They are respectable and accepted in Polite Society but they do not mingle or socialize. They exist on the fringes, defenders of a sort.

One does not hire the Sweetwaters if there is anything normal or routine about the investigation... Our clients come to us when they have run out of options. We are the last resort.
- Owen, p. 62

I love that the author introduced us to other members of Owen's family: Nick, Matt, Tony as well as some aunts. (I can imagine a series focusing mainly on the Sweetwaters. ^_^)

Amanda Quick has really developed, quite successfully, her Arcane/Talent mythos and it fits so well into Victorian England. The world she has built is immersive and expansive with characters that are all very compelling.

My biggest problem is that Quick completes the Arcane series through different genres (contemporary and futuristic paranormal) -- but I only read historicals. (I have read all of Quick's historicals since she started writing them in the early 90s. My favorites are: Mystique, Mischief, Affair and her Lavinia Lake + Tobias March trilogy.)

To learn more about the Arcane Society and Amanda Quick's other works, visit Amanda Quick's website.

Favorite line in the novel: "A man can learn a great deal about women from novels," Matt said. "You should try it sometime." p. 262 (referring to sensation novels) Very meta-textual. ^_^



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