Tag Archive | Victorian

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

The world has changed and life as one knows it has reverted to a futuristic time mixed with the beauty and grace of the Victorian era. Fancy dress and high tech gadgets are the norm for seventeen-year-old Nora Dearly. The term at her finishing school has come to an end and she awaits her aunt’s carriage with patience and slight dread. Orphaned from the recent death of her father, Nora finds comfort through best friend Pamela as they venture home to New Victoria.

It was supposed to be a quiet first night back. Determined to find comfort in one of her favourite war films she shared with her father, a commotion outside derails her thoughts as the walking dead burst into her home. As Nora scampers to the roof, strangers rescue her but she’s horrified that even the handsome Bram is dead as well. Alone and surrounded by zombies, Nora must find strength within if she’s going to escape and return home.

I’ve never read anything steampunk before and I found myself pleasantly surprised how well this YA romance with zombies worked. Zombies aren’t all hungry monsters, but some have been given five years of an undead kind of life before succumbing to the final death. The idea is well executed and for those that need depth within a YA, look no further for Habel has thought of everything!

Steampunk fans will enjoy this book, and for those that don’t understand the genre will enjoy it just as must. There are excellent settings, cool gadgets and zombies falling in love. It was an exciting read that didn’t have my heart beating in fear but thrilled as I turned the pages in wonder about the fate of the characters. I can’t wait to read more from Habel and the next installment in the series.

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Velvet by Mary Hooper

Homeless and starving, Velvet was fortunate to find a job at Ruffold’s Steam Laundry and a tiny room to call her own. In 1900 Victorian England, she fights for survival every day against the heat and backbreaking labour. When an opportunity arises for a higher position, Velvet works her fingers to the bone to keep her role as a personal laundress for the wealthy spiritual medium Madame Sayoya.

However, mistakes do happen and Velvet gets fired. By a stroke of luck she is welcomed into the home of her best client. Now a part of the spiritual community, Velvet follows the rules to a T to ensure every séance of Madame’s goes without issue. She falls in love with Madame’s handsome assistant George and plans her future of finery. As time passes, cracks form in her wonderful world and Velvet must face her past and confront dangerous secrets.

Velvet takes an age-old story of a struggling girl in London during a period when fortune-tellers, mediums and paying for spiritual consultants were a fashionable hobby. Mary Hooper takes it a step further by weaving other historical aspects that are less flattering about this time period. It’s an easy and engrossing read that will keep you turning pages to learn more about how mediums tricked innocent patrons and if Velvet can survive being stuck in a web of lies.

I’ve always had a fondness for historical fiction. Perhaps it began with C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books. I was always fascinated by historical England just as much as what occurred in Narnia. I absolutely fell in love with the imagery and storytelling of Victorian England. It’s extra enjoyable when part of the setting is around the corner from where one presently lives. Hooper does her research and she does it well. The tone, the language and the events of story are engaging without being dry. The only criticism I have about the book is how weak at times Velvet appears, and although I understand it’s a period equation, that’s how women behaved back then. I can’t help but wish there was a bit more spunk to her character.  If this title is on your to-read list, get it read! It’s a great YA book that’s got some romance but has more depth by placing survival as the main focus.