I love historical fiction and enjoy encouraging our young readers to read this genre. I found this book particularly enjoyable. At the start of the story we find our young heroine working in a steam laundry. This is Victorian England and life is hard for orphans like Velvet, who has no family to help her survive and so must take care not to lose her job or she will find herself homeless and hungry like so many others. She is delighted when Madame Savoya, a well known clairvoyant, offers her a position as a live-in maid in her smart London home and she begins to hope that her life might get even better as she suspects Madame's assistant, George, might be attracted to her. As time goes by Velvet realises that many of the women working as clairvoyants are in fact fraudsters taking advantage of, and making lots of money out of, grieving families, and she starts to wonder if Madame might not be as genuine as she seems. She decides to investigate.
The book is based on sound fact as it is widely known that many Victorians, including such famous figures as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, regularly attended séances and visited mediums, and also it is well documented that many of the women who claimed to have psychic powers ended up being prosecuted for fraud. The picture of the life of the girls in the steam laundry and also the glimpse of the terrible baby farm are also convincing. Ms Hooper has done her research well and includes some excellent historical notes and even a bibliography at the end of the book. A great read for young teenage readers.