Rachel Hyman's Reviews > The House of Velvet and Glass

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe
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Apr 30, 12

Read in April, 2012

The House of Velvet and Glass began slowly, in a time of mourning. I was struck by the quiet, empty house, the attention to keen details - this sense of being transported existed through the whole book, like the first few chapters built the time period before the figures themselves were struck alive.

The stories woven through the book were beautiful, and the weaving gave a pleasant rocking, like balancing on a boat in calm waters. There were love sagas that crossed class and age; violent stories that mangled and killed; a family struck by addiction and sorrow; and amazing exotic sea adventures. It gave an earnest history of the time, when the break of modernity was crashing hard on the century.

Mainly, this book is about grief: a person's grief, a family's grief, and the grief of a country after a great tragedy. You are pulled deep into Sibyl's despair, and thankful to heal with her, to witness her victories and strength.

The magic of the novel comes from the way the reader is magically transformed. The book itself is a way to scry another time and settle with our own visions of how the world drifts, a hundred years after this novel is set, in the wake of our own tragedies.
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