Saturday, June 15, 2013

Review: House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

From the Publisher...
Katherine Howe, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with an entrancing historical novel set in Boston in 1915, where a young woman stands on the cusp of a new century, torn between loss and love, driven to seek answers in the depths of a crystal ball.

Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in an elegant town house in Boston’s Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium.

But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium’s scrying glass.

From the opium dens of Boston’s Chinatown to the opulent salons of high society, from the back alleys of colonial Shanghai to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass weaves together meticulous period detail, intoxicating romance, and a final shocking twist that will leave readers breathless.

From Me...

I picked up this book simply because I read  The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which you should read in case you were wondering.  Anyway, I loved the cover of this book, and growing up during the Titanic (Leonardo DiCaprio) obsession era, I was instantly in love.  I hoped this love would be lasting one, not a love at first site love but a get into it, figure out our problems and commit to a life together love.  Luckily for me it was the second love, though we did have to figure out our problems.  

The beginning of the book is quite beautiful, painting a picture of just how majestic the dining room of the Titanic must have been.  I became very interested in the character Eulah, hoping that she fell in love with the handsome book collector.  In the next chapter, we find out the Eulah is dead, as is her beau, and its 3 years later from the sinking.  The problem here is that I should have read the synopsis and I would have seen this coming.  Nevertheless, I forged ahead and really got invested into Sibyl. Here are where the bumps in the road of our relationship begin.

The middle of the book is like trying to run in water, really slow, really difficult  and you don't really get anywhere very quickly.  There isn't much substance here except that without some of the information, the ending won't make much sense.

The ending, however, is kind of amazing.  The father goes from being overbearing, stubborn and possibly abusive, to tragically sweet.  Don't give up on his storyline, as the book goes on his story becomes one of the most important.  Sibyl's story is wrapped up, but not in the super shiny bow that I expected.  Though this book and I went through some serious struggles, I think we have a great connection.  Enjoy.


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