Monday, November 12, 2012

Velvet by Mary Hooper

Velvet is an orphan. She struggles to make ends meet by working in a steam, laundry, where the work is back-breaking and exhausting. So when she attracts the attention of the glamorous clairvoyant Madame Savoya, she cannot believe her good fortune.
Raised to the status of lady's maid, Velvet is given elegant clothes to wear and is brought to live in a grand house in London. But the longer she works for Madame Savoya, the more she discovers about the mysterious world of a spiritual medium. Velvet soon realises that her employer is not quite what she seems and that this knowledge could put her very life in danger.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of Pages: 336
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Ellie, age 16

Throughout the years, many things have come in and out of fashion. One hundred years ago, brightly colored jeans and impractical boots made out of fur would be considered completely absurd, while in today’s culture the stiff dresses and Model-T cars that were popular back in the day are antiques reserved for historical reenactments.  However, one thing that is still as popular today as it was in the 1900’s is the world’s infatuation with the spirit world. Ghosts, life after death, no matter what you call it, everyone has their own interest in what happens on the other side of life. But when the people who can tap into the other side-mediums, psychics, and the like-are more than a little untrustworthy, what are we to believe? This idea is explored in “Velvet,” a novel by Mary Hooper.  In this book, a young laundress named Velvet is taken on as an assistant by the rich and talented medium Madame Savoya, letting Velvet dive into the world of communicating with the dead. However, Velvet has a secret that only the dead know, and soon she has to deal with everything from fake mediums to blackmail…

This book is fabulous fun. I have not read many books concerning mediums or psychics, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got was an intriguing and entertaining novel with a lovely main character. My favorite aspect of this book is how the reader is able to see multiple points of view, giving the reader an advantage over Velvet in terms of information and knowledge. Another aspect that I enjoyed was the attention to detail, as I could clearly see the lavish accommodations and mysterious séances that Velvet encounters. Also, I was happy to see that there was a wide range of characters and that some of them concealed some very big secrets, keeping you in suspense throughout the novel. Finally, Hooper elegantly wove in multiple classes in the book, transitioning from the poor to the rich in an easy-to-read manner.

The beginning and the end of the book caused a problem for me, though not a very noticeable one: I feel that the end on the book came too fast. Though I know this quick ending was necessary to avoid the story from dragging on, I felt it was a bit too fast. Also, I disliked how some of the romance in the book seemed too quick to really believe, though since this is a YA novel, that is to be expected. However, the good outweighed the bad in this particular book.

With a fantastic plot and some intriguing plot twists, I was thoroughly impressed by “Velvet.” I would recommend this book to fans of the Cat Royal series or the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, and fans of historical fiction should give this book a try. Read this book so you can decide: can we trust mediums, or is it all just a hoax?

This book is on shelves now! 

Happy reading!
Ellie, age 16

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