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3.5 2
by Mary Hooper

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Velvet is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Velvet is desperate to create a better life. Then she is noticed by Madame Savoya, a famed medium, who asks Velvet to come work for her. At first she is dazzled by the young


Velvet is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Velvet is desperate to create a better life. Then she is noticed by Madame Savoya, a famed medium, who asks Velvet to come work for her. At first she is dazzled by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But Velvet soon realizes that Madame Savoya is not all that she says she is, and Velvet's very life may be in danger . . . A romantic and thrilling new novel from an acclaimed historical fiction writer, Velvet is packed with rich details and surprising twists.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jonatha Bayse
Velvet lives a life of drudgery in Ruffold's Steam Laundry. She slaves over the washing every day for very little money. The tide turns when she begins handling the personal laundry of Madame Natasha Savoya, a self-proclaimed medium and clairvoyant. What happens next is nothing short of astonishing. Madame Savoya plucks Velvet from the laundry and employs her as her personal assistant. Velvet learns many things from Madame Savoya, including that she is not everything she claims to be. Hooper's historical novel falls flat from the very beginning. The characters, including the heroine, are extremely two-dimensional, and it is difficult to become attached to any of them. Historical novels are generally a hard sell when it comes to young adult readers, and Hooper's novel will most certainly be passed over. Overall, Hooper's idea for the novel is a good one—debunking mediums during the early part of the twentieth century is an interesting topic. Hooper's historical notes are more interesting than the actual story. Readers will connect more with such writers as Jennifer Donnelly and Karen Hesse. This book might be better left to the adults. Reviewer: Jonatha Bayse
VOYA - Mauree Schroeder
Velvet is a romance novel set in England during the early industrial revolution. The book is named after the protagonist, whose life is convoluted due to guilt, loneliness, and a deep-running determination to make a better life for herself. Despite the freshness of the involvement of mediums and conspiracies, the word choice is awkward and seems to drag rather than lead the audience through the anticlimactic prose. Even beyond that, it is very predictable. Reviewer: Mauree Schroeder, Teen Reviewer
Kirkus Reviews
A Victorian teen becomes dangerously ensnared in the sinister world of a fraudulent medium in this well-constructed, thoroughly researched tale set in London in 1900. A "quick and intelligent girl" with no family to support her, Velvet works long hours under dreadful conditions at Ruffold's Steam Laundry. A year ago, Velvet's drunken, abusive father fell into the river while chasing her, and she did nothing to save him. Guarding her guilty secret, Velvet abandoned her old life and childhood beau, fled to London and changed her name. When the famous clairvoyant Madame Savoya hires Velvet, she's thrilled to live in Madame's posh house and quickly develops a crush on Madame's handsome assistant, George. Initially grateful and in awe of Madame's seemingly incredible ability to communicate with spirits of the dead and bring comfort to grieving survivors, Velvet gradually discovers Madame's skills are not all they appear to be. By including descriptions of Madame's private sessions with individual clients, Hooper clues readers in to Madame's fraudulent schemes long before Velvet realizes the appalling truth. Vulnerable and credible, Velvet tries to expose Madame, but not before a shocking revelation. Packed with fascinating period details about the Victorian spiritualist craze, Hooper's suspenseful tale delivers authentic characters, bizarre encounters, plot twists and romance. Intriguing, savory Victorian chiller. (author's note; historical notes; bibliography) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—A Victorian novel with a hint of romance. Sixteen-year-old Velvet Groves is struggling to make it on her own and trying to get away from her past. When she faints during her job as a laundress at London's Ruffold's Steam Laundry, she pleads for another chance and is assigned to attend to the clothing of Madame Natasha Savoya, a well-respected medium. Once she is in the mysterious woman's home, she finds herself attracted to Madame's handsome assistant and her glamorous lifestyle. Readers learn about the roles mediums played during the height of spiritualism, and Velvet slowly realizes that her elegance-loving employer preys on bereaved people, tricking them out of their fortunes. However, out of fear that Madame will bring up Velvet's past and she'll lose her new life, the teen cooperates. Eventually, her conscience catches up with her and she decides to expose the two-faced woman. With some very good twists and turns, the novel does an excellent job of depicting the era, characterizing the hardship women faced and breaking down the many tricks mediums used. An author's note is appended.—Jesse L. Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
1000L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

MARY HOOPER is a popular writer for children and young adults, best known for her finely woven historical novels, including Fallen Grace, Newes from the Dead, and The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose. She lives in England. www.maryhooper.co.uk

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Velvet 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A slow start but got better. Old english language. Historical, no romance and not a thriller. Great facts, learned a lot. Fast read.
pagese More than 1 year ago
I really have to be honest and say that I must not have read the book description accurately when I requested this book. I think I saw the name Mary Hooper (who I've wanted to read) and Victorian age and just jumped. I'm sure if I had really noticed that this focuses around spiritualism, I might not have been so eager to read it. The only thing that kept me reading once I realized what this book was about was Velvet. Her background was intriguing. I admired her strength to survive because it couldn't have been easy to go from being provided for to having to get by on your own. I was surprised at her own actions when her father died. It may have made her feel incredibly guilty, but he made it easy to walk away. The only flaw was that she was so eager to step up in the world she completely turned a blind eye to Madame Savoya and to George (her partner). I know in this time period, it was far to easy to believe that mediums were real. But, I kept wanting her to see the truth. And that is why I kept reading. So my dislike of this book completely lies in the spiritualism aspect. Which really does not make it fair to this book. I liked the style, the writing, and our lead character. But for some reason, spiritualism just rubs me the wrong way. I hate the idea that they were tricking people out of their money, especially when it came to lonely rich widows. I dislike that each medium came up with new tricks to outdo their competitors. I especially disliked some of the tactics that Madame Savoya pulls in this book. She's a downright nasty women. That being said, I will still read another book by Mary Hooper. I have my eye on another series of hers. I will however, try to stay as far away from books were spiritualism is the focus from now on.