Following her solid debut of “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane”, author Katherine Howe took a three year break before releasing her sophomore novel “The House of Velvet and Glass”. The book was absolutely worth the wait. “The House of Velvet and Glass” is the story of the fates of the Allston family and those who love them. Lan Allston, shipping magnate, is the head of the family. Sybil and Harlan are his remaining two children, as he lost a wife and daughter in the sinking of the Titanic. The story follows the lives of Sybil and Lan, in the 1910’s and 1860’s respectively and how their unique gifts change the course of their destinies.
“The House of Velvet and Glass” by Katherine Howe is delightful, well-written, engaging Gothic-tinged historical fiction. The novel is expertly woven together with the different histories, addictions, passions, and ambitions of each of the characters. Separate, their stories are merely interesting, together, they take the novel from average to excellent. The writing is a bit darker and more refined than “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane”, and while I prefer her sophomore novel, I’d recommend both wholeheartedly. Bottom line: 3.5/5.
If you like this book, or liked Howe’s first novel, you should check out “The Forgotten Garden” and “The Distant Hours” by Kate Morton, “The Flight of Gemma Hardy” by Margot Livesey, or “The Lantern” by Deborah Lawrenson – they are all wonderful modern day Gothic mysteries.
Opium plays a premier role in the novel and while I have no opium recipes to recommend (sorry, fresh out!), there is a recipe for the sublime Cherry Ginger Lemonade with Poppy Sugar from the lovely Stephmodo blog. No poppy sugar handy? Good, you’re human follow this version of the recipe instead.