Velvet

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Title: Velvet
Author: Xavier Axelson
Cover artist: n/a
Publisher: Seventh Window Publications
Amazon Buy Link:Velvet
Genre: historical  romance
Length: 138 pages
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: Nicely written, but strange story, which did not have too much of a medieval feel for me.

Blurb:
The first novel from Xavier Axelson is set against a backdrop of decadence, privilege, and intrigue. Virago, the royal tailor, makes a discovery that will test the bonds of brotherhood, unravel the forbidden secrets of his heart and threaten the very fabric of his existence.

In a land where cruelty is disguised as allegiance, loyalty is masked by obligation and the laws of sumptuary govern the people, nothing is more dangerous than Velvet.

Review:

I was a little bit at loss as to what I thought about this story after I finished it and I am probably still a little bit at loss, which is the reason for the somewhat disjointed nature of this review.

First and foremost I was confused and I do not like feeling that way after I finish with a book. I still have no idea whatsoever what was the meaning of Velvet, besides its use as sewing material for clothing (and it IS used as a sewing material for one of the jobs Virago takes for the king, though I will not say anything more since it is will be a spoiler). But at the same time, since the blurb gives so much attention to it and it is the title of the book, I kept wondering what metaphor it was supposed to personify and I just did not get it.

I had to ask Raine for help and she pointed to me the pretty obvious nature of Velvet metaphor and I cannot believe I did not see it.

I interpreted the main theme of the novel as Virago opening his eyes to what lies in his heart and who the people around him truly are. While I could see the theme of Virago understanding his own heart being executed on the page decently enough, him realizing that most people around him whom he thought his friends are not his friends just did not work for me. It did not work for me because I was either not shown (just told about) them being friends in the first place, or it was so clear and unambiguous to me that those were horrible people that Virago’s surprise, pain, whatever he was supposed to feel just fell flat for me.

There is a romance in the book or at least I thought it was supposed to be romantic storyline. It starts incredibly fast, way too fast for me, and it did not quite work for me (although sex was hot), because I did not even feel that after they decided they loved each other (first meeting basically, even if they do not say the words right away), that they get to know each other much. My impression was that they just decided that they were each other’s loves and proceed according to such a decision I guess. I just did not feel a lot of connection with the characters.

Virago narrates the story, so I thought it was almost very well done that the writer managed to convey the sense of suspense and urgency as to what will happen to Virago. There is a reason why I said “almost well done”. The first chapter of the story basically starts from the end – it shows what happened to the main characters so to speak. So when Virago starts to narrate from the beginning, I had a strange feeling that while I liked how the sense of urgency kept increasing, at the same time I felt that it was all kind of fake, since I already knew what would happen.

I also thought that the historical settings in the story could be only called medieval if one stretches the meaning of the word a little. Oh there are some general signs of an unnamed medieval society, but they are so general that to me, the story could have taken place in huge stretch of time and in so many countries. Despite having said what I just did, I really liked how the settings were portrayed in a sense of how the writer showed the society dying inside in a sense . You know, the saying “feast before plague” (translated from Russian, maybe English has a different idiom) applies to this story perfectly. I thought it was well done.

Another thing that confused me was two of the secondary characters. I did not see what the reason was for one of them being in the story and for another one his actions were just not explained well enough to satisfy me.

 

12 thoughts on “Velvet

  1. Raine

    I had problems with this one too, no surprise really as our taste coincides more often than it doesn’t. :grin:

    It didn’t feel like a romance to me but rather an allegory or morality tale, but I couldn’t find any subtle message here. It is very ornate in it’s general language and the yet the sex is all about the rut and very robust.

    Not my style but interesting.

    1. Sirius

      Yeah, these reviews are the hardest to write for me – where I cannot make up my mind what exactly I think about the book :). Thank you for your help though, I still cannot believe I missed something so in my face and not subtle.

    1. Sirius

      Alternate Universe of what though? That it is more like fantasy? Actually no, I think it wants to be a true historical, my problem was more like that I could not place it. Does not mean that you won’t be able to do that of course. Or am I misunderstanding your question?

  2. Cryselle

    I’ve been thinking of this one and of all things, the character’s name put me off. I’m not silly enough to expect that modern characters named Taylor all sew or that Masons lay stones, but a non-standard name word that has such an unpleasant meaning kept me from jumping on it right away. (I didn’t know it had a nicer meaning until I looked it up to be sure I knew what I was talking about, but it still doesn’t fit a male character well.) Like the author was sending me a message about what sort of person the MC is. Did it come across that way or do you think it was chosen more for the sound?

    1. Sirius

      Actually, I had no clue what was the meaning of the name. When I read the blurb, it sounded something a bit unusual (the blurb I mean), and I just thought that the author wanted something fancy to show that it is not a modern work. But now I wonder – narrator is not like that, no. He is more clueless I guess IMO. Refusing to look in the face of the reality till it hits him.

  3. Leslie S

    I’m with Cryselle on this one – just reading the review I was thinking ‘why would anyone give that name to a main male character?’ and even if the name refers to the original meaning, I’m still not sure I’d want to read it because it smacks of a certain pretentiousness. Also, while I like medieval stories I’m not a fan of medieval AUs that are vague. I prefer them to be recognisable if you know what I mean. So thanks for the review Sirius, you definitely saved me some time!

  4. Wave

    Sirius

    Xavier Axelson wanted to comment but the spam filter didn’t let him through so he asked me to post his comment:

    Thank you Sirius for reading and reviewing Velvet, I appreciate the thoughtful review and comments. XA

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