Fascinating peek into the world of Victorian mediums through a gripping story.
Genre: Historical (YA)
Published: 5 July 2012
Source: review copy kindly sent by the publisher
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The blurb says...
Velvet is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry's work is back-breaking and Velvet is desperate to create a better life for herself. Then Velvet is noticed by Madame Savoya, a famed medium, who asks Velvet to come to work for her. Velvet is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Velvet realises that Madame Savoya is not all that she says she is, and Velvet's very life is in danger.
My verdict: a twisty, pacy historical with a fabulous heroine
I really enjoyed this! I love intrigue and mystery and this tale has it all, wrapped up beautifully in a rich Victorian setting. I haven't read any of Mary Hooper's before, but I will be looking out for them now.
Velvet is a wonderful character - brave and bold for a young woman of the time and yet so naive. I spent half the book wanting to say 'no, Velvet, don't believe/do that!', because I knew what was going on under Velvet's nose and where the story was going. Or at least I thought I did - Mary Hooper is a clever and sneaky writer because there were several unexpected twists and turns to this story, which delighted me.
The historical detail in the novel was brilliant too. I've always loved being able to come away from a good story with a bonus bit of learning, and this novel gave me that. I knew very little about the world of Victorian mediums and absolutely nothing about some of the other practices featured in the book. It's all skilfully done as incidental through the engaging plot and characters, without a whiff of dry exposition or lecture-style explanation.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend this as a cracking read which offers a really immersive experience, giving plenty of information about the period.