ARC Review: “Velvet” by Mary Hooper

Velvet by Mary Hooper

Goodreads | Amazon

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 …A romantic and thrillingly exciting new novel from an acclaimed and much loved historical writer for teens.

2 1/2 stars

Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for this eARC! This book will be released November 13th, 2012.

The blurb calls this book “romantic” and “thrilling.” The fact is, this book is neither.

Honestly, I was expecting so much more from this book. The premise was interesting, and Mary Hooper is an established historical fiction writer. Sadly, this book plays on too many historical fiction cliches that bother the heck out of me.

The first problem is the way the book was written. I have no idea why so many historical fiction books think they need to ramble on like historical pieces of the times. Yes, I understand there is certain language you can and cannot use when writing in historical periods, but we’ve cut out the rambling in modern day books for a reason. This is certainly a personal thing as well, since I prefer all unneccesary words to be cut, but still. It bothers me, and it made me iffy about the book from the get go.

The second was the characters. Apart from Madame Savoya, they were all pretty flat and generic. Velvet annoyed me especially, since she had the potential to be such a strong main character, but then fell into the utterly gullible and naive cliche. She toyed with Charlie (a boy from her past who is inexplicably smitten with her even though she brushes him off at every turn), with whom there was NO connection of any real kind, no matter how much they protested there was, and then she was completely taken in by both Madame Savoya and George, her assistant.

The kicker came with the ending–or rather, the lack thereof. I hit the button on my Kindle for the next slide and NOPE. Nothing. I literally couldn’t believe it. Looking back on those two pages or so, I guess they do suggest an ending, but it’s NOT a finished one. Not by a long shot. The climax is a brief and abrupt thing, then all of the sudden you have TWO pages of falling action and that’s just it. Note that when I say two pages, I’m talking for the screens of my small-as-possible Kindle. I’m not sure if this would even make two pages of book. Before this I was thinking of opimistically giving the book 3 stars, but this just killed the book for me.

I will say, however, that the idea continued to impress me all throughout the story. The intrigue that Hooper worked in was basic at times, but the entire setting–mediumship, etc–was really enjoyable and interesting. I learned a lot both about the real ideas of spiritualism and about how all the hoaxers got away with what they did. This is basically the thread that kept me reading.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I LOVE the genre. Maybe my standards for what I do read is a little too high, but this book just fell way short of all of them. I wanted so much more from the book, but I found the standard writing style, flat characters and an ending-that-wasn’t. Most of my frustration comes from the fact that I believed this book could be so much more. Hooper has a fantastic idea, but the execution just didn’t fit.


Top Ten Books On My Fall T-B-Reviewed List

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

It’s a TTT Rewind week! For this one, I’m fudging the criteria a little. I thought it was really cool to show what reviews are coming up on the blog when I did this on September 4, so I’m going to do it again! And tell me if you’d rather see it never ever again.

1. Katya’s World by Jonathan L. Howard

I actually haven’t read a dystopian in ever, so I’m really excited to take another dip back into it. This one just strikes me as different for some reason, and I hope it lives up to it’s expectations. Look for this one October 12th.

2. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

I have had this since JUNE and it’s KILLING me that I haven’t read it yet. But the release date still isn’t til November, so here we are a crapton of months later. Luckly, this review is finally coming October 19th!

3. Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to their Teen Selves edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally

This one has a really long title for not such a big book. But anyways. I have a physical copy of this sucker and I’m so happy because there are some high flying names in this one! I can’t wait to share it with you, even if I have no idea how to review it. This review will appear in some fashion on October 22nd.

4. The Messenger by Pamela DuMond

This book has, for some reason, switched titles and covers since I signed up for the blog tour, but I digress. This is the stuff Goodreads is using now, so don’t shoot me if it’s wrong. But, anyways, this is a blog tour and there will be a review and all will be discovered on October 25th.

5. Undeadly by Michele Vail

I consider myself to be lucky to have an ARC of this, considering I never realized the release date had been pushed back to November and it just happened to show up amid the chaos that is the new NetGalley. Look for a review October 29th – just in time for Halloween!

6. Endlessly by Kiersten White

This is the one and only book on this list that I have actually already read. Read a while ago, too. But I kept pushing it back for other scheduled blog tours and author interviews. I REFUSE to bump it ANOTHER month, so November 1st it is!

7. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

This is another one I keep pushing back, half because it was published ages ago and so I had to make room for newer releases and half because the reviews that came out all frightened me half to death. This should be interesting. Mark your calenders for November 2nd.

8. Velvet by Mary Hooper

This is a new acquisition that I’m VERY excited about. It’s fantasy, but it’s also historical and I LOVE IT when those two things mix. Hopefully it’ll live up to my expectations. You’ll see November 5th!

9. Secrets by Tim Mettey

This one actually doesn’t have a cover or a Goodreads page yet, but I JUST got my ARC in the mail and that’s very exciting. This one is scheduled for November 12th.

10. Renegade by J. A. Souders

Now I don’t actually have this one yet, but it does come out November 13th so Tor/Forge should be sending it to me some time before that. I have no idea when the review will go live, but it’s possible it’ll throw at least half these dates out of whack. 😛

Stacking the Shelves #9

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews!

I’m baaaack! It’s been a long absence, but at least I have something to show for it! Sorry for the strange setting. Dorm life leaves no room for privacy and my roommate was warned. Midterms will do that to a person.


Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs – Goodreads

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson – Goodreads


Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland (Edelweiss) – Goodreads

Undeadly by Michele Vail (NetGalley) – Goodreads

Velvet by Mary Hooper (NetGalley – Goodreads


Dear Teen MeGoodreads

Ironskin by Tina Connolly – Goodreads