The blurb: Sibyl Allston is devastated by the recent deaths of her mother and sister aboard the Titanic. Hoping to heal her wounded heart, she seeks solace in the parlour of a medium who promises to contact her lost loved ones. But Sibyl finds herself drawn into a strange new world where she can never be sure that what she sees or hears is real.
In fear and desperation she turns to psychology professor Benton Derby – despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past… From the opium dens of Boston’s Chinatown to the upscale salons of high society, Sibyl and Benton are drawn into a world of occult magic, of truth and lies, and into a race to understand Sibyl’s own apparent talent for scrying before it is too late. Katherine Howe’s “The House of Velvet and Glass” is a harrowing story of darkness and danger vanquished by the redemptive power of love.
My review: Bit torn here. There were some parts of this book that I completely loved but there was something that just didn’t set me on fire. I think I loved The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane so much that this book was always going to struggle to live up to its older sibling.
This is primarily the story of the Allston family and how the turbulent events of the early twentieth century will mark and change their lives and how they all, in different ways, struggle to have some control over the events unfolding around them.
I cared about the characters especially Sibyl, it’s hard not to. She’s intelligent, but restrained and overlooked, unhappy in a world where many are probably unhappy if they were given the chance to admit it to themselves. The period detail is excellent and I loved the regular snapbacks to the past history of Lannie Allston and the goings on with Eulah on the Titanic.
I was disappointed that there wasn’t more made of the scrying, it seemed to be an add on to make the story come together. Whereas it could’ve been more haunting and generational. But there were times when it nearly made me cry with the heart-breaking storylines of so much tragedy on one family.
For me it needed to be a much tighter book. There were moments when I found myself wanting to leave it and begin another book and I only stuck with it due to my admiration of Howe’s earlier novel. I’m glad I did, the ending is by far the best bit of the book. So a slightly mixed bag from me on this one, take it away with you and let me know what you think!
6.5 out of 10 stars! ******.5
BUY ME! The House of Velvet and Glass