After being so impressed with Deliverance Dane, I found The House of Velvet and Glass, also by Katherine Howe and dove into its chilling story line. Sibyl Allston is haunted by the death of her sister and mother from the sinking of the Titanic and has to take on role of head of the house while her stoic father lurks in its innermost parlor and her younger brother neglects to take his life seriously. The tragedy has morphed aging Sibyl from slightly spinster older sister of dazzling Eulah to a tight-laced intellectual who takes her mother Helen’s place in Mrs. Dee’s dark home where spirits are conjured and palms are read. Since the sinking, Sibyl reunites with the surviving families of those lost to the Atlantic on the April anniversary. She wills herself in the pitch blackness to remember the details of her sister and mother, their faces, their laughs…and while the table shakes beneath her palms she is reached by her mother from her watery grave.
Rattled yet reassured, Sibyl returns to find her brother home from school, though his lessons and exams were far from over. Her father stalks inside the home with detectable irritation, and arranging dinner plans is all Sibyl can do to settle his nerves for Harlan’s return. But Harlan doesn’t come to the dinner table that night…or the night after. It isn’t until a green-eyed woman appears blood-soaked at their door that Sibyl realizes something has gone terribly wrong. The worst of it–Harlan is badly beaten and kicked out of school, and seems to be flitting around with the wrong kind of people for his status…and the status of his Bostonian family. And as Sibyl takes Harlan’s honey into their home, she finds that even she can push aside her proper upbringing for the sake of her curious pursuit of the spirit world. But does looking into the past and future really cure the pains of the present? Can the Allstons accept the cruel truth of Helen and Eulah’s deaths? What becomes of these velvety threads that all collide on the third anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking?
Along side the story lines of Sibyl, Harlan and little Dovie Whistler, the reader is taken back to April 14, 1912, to the dining room and decks of Titanic, where Helen and Eulah dine and dance with sophistication…when it seems their lives where nothing but charmed. And even farther back in time, the story illuminates the reader of patriarch Lan Allston’s own journey, when he crossed the Pacific to the streets of Shanghai– to perhaps the most pivotal moment of his entire life.