Book Review: Velveteen by Daniel Marks
PROS:Great MC voice; snappy dialogue; killer revenge; unique and cool afterlife
CONS:A bit on the longer side (but the writing sucks you in so it's hard to care)
Velveteen‘s richly detailed story will suck you in, no matter how disturbed, grossed out, or awestruck you are by its darker plot points.
I expected Daniel Marks’ debut, Velveteen, to be deliciously dark, the perfect read for getting into a macabre mood for Halloween, and I have never been so delighted to be right! Atmospheric and superbly written with a tough-yet-lovable heroine, Velveteen‘s richly detailed story will suck you in—no matter how disturbed, grossed out, or awestruck you are by its darker plot points.
I might just add this to my yearly Halloween rituals: viewing no less than three Tim Burton movies, reading The Graveyard Book, and gorging on an ungodly amount of candy corn.
Why Velveteen Rocks:
Velveteen: a BAMF Chick From the Afterlife
Velveteen is living in purgatory, assigned to protect it from upsetting disturbances in the daylight (our world) and to bring lost souls to their rightful place, along with her team of Salvagers.
Velvet is a BAMF character who has clawed and sniped her way into my personal heroine hall of fame. She was definitely her own person in “daylight” life—tough, uncompromising, with a unique Fluevog-wearing style. Velvet was reared on artsy films by her mother, and stuck to the fringe of her high school world, often getting into trouble. That doesn’t change in purgatory, where there are strict rules against unsanctioned visits into the daylight world. Velvet has never been a fan of rules, so it’s no surprise that she crosses over in secret on a quest to stop Bonesaw, her killer, from living to torture and maim another day.
She’s devastatingly snarky and brash with her crew, and even more so with her enemies. Her snark is moody and hilarious, and even when she’s flying solo we get to hear her smartass inner monologues along the way.
While reading I imagined her as some kind of goth tough chick blend of Lydia from Beetlejuice, Lisbeth Salander from Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fairuza Balk’s character from The Craft. So basically, charming goth, tough stick-it-to-the-bad-guys goth, and unhinged goth all rolled into one.
(Though on the cover, she kind of looks like Kristen Stewart wearing Alexander McQueen).
There IS a bit of romance for Velvet, though you wouldn’t think upon meeting her in the first quarter of the book that she would EVER be up for something as pedestrian as kissing or hand-holding. (And she’s really not.) It’s great fun to see her resist her attraction and try to cling to wanting to kick this guy’s ass. But I guess hormones make their way into purgatory too.
MVP Velvet related lines:
Despite his faults, he could be great fun, he never seemed short of a smart-alecky comment, and he was Quentin’s best friend, so Velvet decided she wouldn’t kick him until he stopped moving.
Velvet got into too much trouble. It was a gift. If she weren’t dead, she’d be in juvie.
She walks a tightrope between psycho and smokin’.
Not Your Mother’s Purgatory
Rather than being a torture chamber of punishing horrors or a boring eternal prison cell, Velveteen’s purgatory is more like a gothic artsy neighborhood I’d probably overpay to live in. Her Salvage dorm is in the gaslit Latin Quarter, where salons are held each night with dreadfully off-key song performances and death stories entertaining resident souls.
When someone—usually psychics and witches—gets a bit too zealous in their manipulation of spirits and magic, it has devastating effects in purgatory….in the form of giant squidlike tentacles. They attack the city, knocking down buildings and scooping up souls to frighten.
But not all purgatory unrest comes from supernatural monsters. The city is run by Manny, the station agent, who controls when souls move on, and who directs Velvet and her Salvage team on their missions. Not everyone is pleased by the status quo, and revolutionaries are calling for a scary, forbidden “departure.” Eerily realistic origami effigies burn in the streets, and a revolution that would make Paris proud begins to unfold.
This world is just begging to be brought to film life by Tim Burton, Guillermo Del Toro, or some other darkly inclined visionary mind. I for one would see it (with lots of candy corn).
Creeeeeeeepy Serial Killer
We open the novel with Velveteen taking a boot-kicking look into a certain serial killer’s humble abode, and it is spine-tinglingly scary stuff. While I do wish there had been more focus on good old Bonesaw revenge, this was a satisfying subplot to a larger, richer story.
Read an excerpt here:
In the spirit of All Hallow’s Read, we’re giving away a spooky book in each newsletter until Halloween, including one copy of Velveteen.
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