cover image Velvet


Mary Hooper. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59990-912-7

Mediums are all the rage in London at the dawn of the 20th century—even Arthur Conan Doyle attends séances. When the mysterious Madame Savoya plucks teenage Velvet Groves from her grueling job at a laundry, Velvet is thrilled. The work is easier, Madame is as kind as she is beautiful, and there seems to be a spark between Velvet and Madame’s handsome assistant, George. Velvet’s only concern is that the spirit of her cruel father—who, Velvet fears, may have a few things to reveal about the night he died—might visit her new employer. Given the author’s background in historical fiction, it’s no surprise that Hooper (Fallen Grace) has a strong handle on the details of the period; the novel’s structure, though, is more problematic. Since Hooper gives readers access to Madame’s private sessions in interludes scattered throughout the novel, they will realize that all is not as it seems long before Velvet does. Velvet’s adventures remain absorbing, but older readers in particular will likely anticipate most of the plot developments. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jodie Marsh, United Agents. (Nov.)