Thursday, 5 July 2012

Review - Velvet

Velvet by Mary Hooper

Velvet by Mary Hooper
Velvet is set in London during the winter of 1900. Sixteen year old Velvet is an orphan who works in a hot and sweaty laundry. Just as she is about to be fired, her luck changes. When Madame Savoya, a respected London medium (someone who can speak with the spirits of the dead) takes her under her wing, Velvet thinks that life has never been so good. But is there something darker going on? And will the secrets from her past threaten her future?

This novel flirts….with a bit of history, a lot of romance, a bit of London glamour, a dollop of the spirits stirred with  mystery and crime, and a wee bit of fun too. While you might expect a novel about ‘speaking with spirits’ to be dark, Velvet is actually a light and frothy read – a bit like a mug of hot chocolate with lots of cream and marshmallows. It would probably also go down well with a slab of milk (not dark) chocolate. And the paperback cover feels a bit….velvety.

The novel does provide an introductory sense of what life in London might have been like in 1900 – without getting bogged down in too much detail.  Also, some interesting issues of the day about hot water, Christmas traditions, child workers, marriage, telephones, and baby farms are lightly considered. Yes, baby farms!

But there is also quite a lot of descriptive detail about clothing, séances and sittings with mediums. Velvet and her best friend Lizzie also spend plenty of time considering which of the handsome boys they should be ‘walking out with’! If you like a lot of these things in a story, you will probably enjoy Velvet. There are also twists and turns in the plot but it will depend on what kind of reader you are as to whether or not these hold you in suspense. For me, I wish the plot and characters had been a bit more unpredictable.

Velvet would possibly be suitable for readers aged about 11+ but the subject matter (especially the romance) would also interest older readers.

Publication details:
Bloomsbury, July 2012, London, paperback edition

This copy: received for review from the publisher


  1. I'm really glad you enjoyed this too. It was such a fun novel.

    1. Yes, it was fun and not in the way I thought I'd expect from an historical novel.


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