Oh, well well. One of those book I started forever ago but never dug into. I wonder why I didn’t finish this book the first time round, because it’s quite interesting. The premise of ghosts hustling in purgatory sounded quite a delight.
Velveteen, or Velvet, is kidnapped and murdered when she was a teenager by a seemingly harmless serial killer she calls Bonesaw. Now in purgatory, she focuses on getting revenge, but covertly, because haunting the living is a serious offense in purgatory. As a team leader for the Salvage team, Velvet lead a group of fellow ghosts through missions that extract trapped ghosts from the living. I sort of liked Velvet. Kidnapped, tortured for days, and killed without anyone to avenge her, she is an unhinged cauldron of bubbling rage and teenage regrets. With such a ghastly past, Velveteen can also be sarcastic, grouchy, and full of quips. Her romance with Nick, a new member on her team, is also sometimes sweet. I mean, as sweet as two embittered ghosts trying to stem their mutual attraction can be. Velvet is a strong heroine who I can’t help root for throughout the story, especially her revenge plans for Bonesaw.
I don’t think Nick counts as the other protagonist, although he’s heavily featured. There’s just not a whole lot of personality in him: yes, he’s hot, athletic, smart, sweet, and kind. So? The whole thing reeks of generic insta-love.
I did like some of the supporting characters:
- Luisa and Logan are twelve year old twins who are friends with Velvet and part of her team. They are a combination of world-wise and childish, arriving in purgatory in their child forms but are actually older.
- Luisa is intuitive and sees right through Velvet’s bluff. Such a sharp little darling.
- Logan is a hotheaded pre-teen addict who loves a brawl. Both of them are capable fighters.
- Quentin is an extremely shy person around girls. In fact, his main unresolved issue is girl-induced social anxiety. Adorable.
- Mr. Fassbinder is an origamist who owns a shop called Paper Aviary. I love the sound of that. He makes dainty, life-like birds all from paper. I am always in awe of origamists.
The purgatory in Velveteen is chaotic, perplexing, and otherworldly. Everything is a dim-lit gray except for the souls, who rub ashes on themselves to dampen their brightness. The setting is disorienting because purgatory is like all the cities rolled up into one yet off-kilters. There’s a train station, though, and seems a large part of the worldbuilding.
This world is organized yet unraveling into riots and rebellion because of the ever-spreading cracks and rifts leading to the land of the living. A group of people called the Departurists rally against those maintaining order, claiming it’s those people who keep souls in purgatory. (side note: for once the protagonist is on the other side of the revolution). I did like the mish-mash, disintegrating feel to the setting. It’s is bleary, gritty, and crumbly, which I think captures the essence of purgatory.
Plot & Pacing…Eh
The plot and pacing leave a lot to be desired. A large portion of the story revolves around Velveteen and Nick’s romance, which is an unnecessary plot-line. There are also many strange routines and things devoted to worldbuilding but are a drag to the plot. The mystery solving and action are also rushed and all over the place. I didn’t enjoy the climax or the big reveal, so the story didn’t work for me.
I was hoping for much vengeance upon serial killers and deliverance of kidnapped girls. Not purgatory politics.
Overall, Velveteen combines tragic teenage ghosts and perdition revolutions into a confusing, rambling story. I enjoyed some of the elements, like its worldbuilding and sassy dialogue, but I didn’t like the plot at all. Maybe I was expecting a darker, more violent version of The Lovely Bones. But, if you like peculiar settings and strange tales, try Velveteen.
Do you know any other purgatory-themed books?
by Daniel Marks
Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.
The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.
Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.
It’ll be brutal… and awesome.
But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.
Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules… or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.