Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

In The House of Velvet and Glass, we meet Sibyl, who is still grieving from the death of her mother and younger sister on the Titanic a few years earlier.  Sibyl finds comfort going to seances and thinks that she finally has a sign from her mother that everything is okay.  Then Sibyl's younger brother suddenly arrives home from school, and with a lot of secrets.  Through his love interest, Sibyl discovers that she has some clairevoyant power of her own, and she and her old flame, Benton Derby, must work together to solve a puzzle and save Sibyl.

I really loved Katherine Howe's last book, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, so I was hoping not to be disappointed with this one.  I think I actually liked this one more.  Mainly because of the setting and characters.  I loved the setting in 1915 Boston.  I loved the opium dens and seances that Sibyl visits.  And Sibyl herself was such a great character.  I was annoyed with her at times, but only because she seemed like just your average good girl, who was not always making the right decisions. 

Sibyl's character drew me in because you could still feel how much she was grieving for her mother and sister, and you could feel her desperation for some sort of sign from beyond, to know that they were okay and that it was time to move foward with life.  Anyone who's ever lost someone close to them knows this feeling, and Howe did a wonderful job of making Sibyl feel this way too.

One of my favorite things about Howe's books is where they inevitably lead-to some sort of magic.  She does it so well that it fits in with the story like and doesn't seem weird at all.  Everything is so ordinary in the story and then the magic works its way in, and I'm like "okay, I can totally see this." 

I think one of the reasons Sibyl was so relatable in this book is because she has a weakness, a big one, and ends up needing an intervention from her family and friends.  That makes her seem more real and less like just a character in a book that takes place in 1915.

If you like a bit of "supernatural" in your books, or you were a fan of Howe's previous book, then I definitely recommend this one to you.  I know it's not for everyone.  You have to be able to suspend belief at parts, but if you're willing to do that, I hope you love it as much as I did!

Title: The House of Velvet and Glass
Author: Katherine Howe
Date of Publication: 2012
Number of Pages: 413
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Copy

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