Velvet Shadows

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

velvet shadows 1977 23135 6


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

Tamaris Penfold was hired as a companion to Alain Sauvage’s frail but lovely half-sister, Victorine. She would be a “friend” who would try to protect her from another scandalous involvement - like the one back in France.
Alain was a generous and thoughtful employer. Victorine a bright and amusing companion. But Tamaris could not help wondering about the significance of the gold and enamel snake Victorine wore around her neck. Nor could she stop thinking about the fact that someone had been going through her belongings and leaving strange objects among them.
Then one day Alain was forced to reveal the true story of Victorine’s past. A past, Tamaris suspected, that would soon gain on the future and place everyone at Rancho Del Sol under a shadow of constant fear.


Write-ups from fans ~

Miss Tamaris Penfold is currently working as a schoolteacher in a select ladies' academy, when her late father's man of business comes to her with an astounding offer.  Mr. Alain Sauvage wishes a young lady of good birth and breeding to accompany his half-sister with him to California, his residence.  Victorine is the daughter of their father's second wife, who had found herself in dire straits in France after the Revolution and had then accepted the "protection" of some unsavory characters from the West Indies.  Mr. Sauvage wishes a companion closer in age to his half-sister to, hopefully, detach her from the West Indian man, Christophe D'Lys, and guide her into the Californian society.  On their way West, riding in the private car of a railroad magnate, Tamaris realizes that Victorine is not the delicate gently nurtured young lady she appears to be, but is actively collaborating with D'Lys, who turns out to be a voodoo master.  Once at the Sauvage home in California, Victorine manages to disappear.  While searching for her, Tamaris falls in with a Mrs. Pleasant, who is the voodoo queen of San Francisco, who promises to help her find Victorine; however, Mrs. Pleasant has plans of her own--she sees Victorine as a challenge to her own power.   Victorine and D'Lys kidnap Tamaris and prepare to sacrifice her to their voodoo god, but Alain and Mrs. Pleasant rescue her. ~ SL


This gothic takes place a few years after the Civil War.
When Alain Sauvage successful American business tycoon discovers that he has a half-sister in France, he brings the girl, Victorine back to America. He decides to hire her a companion to teach her the ways of society. He picks Tamaris Penfold, a world traveler and daughter of an old friend. She has been teaching at the Ashley Manor School for young ladies. She accepts the position and is told that she is there to keep the willful young girl from causing a scandal like the one that Alain pulled her out of in France. Victorine is a frail often sickly young lady who can only be helped by her strange maid, Amelie. Tamaris is taken aback by the snake necklace worn by Victorine and the large lifelike spider bracelet worn by her maid. They board as private train car and head for California accompanied by a middle-aged woman who hopes to marry Alain and looks upon Tamaris as a rival. They are followed by Christophe D'Lys, the man Victorine was involved with in France. After finding a Gris-gris in the hem of her shawl, she begins to suspect Victorine and Amalie of some kind of mischief with D'Lys. They arrive in San Francisco and Alain is called away to settle a dispute at one of his mines. Victorine seizes the opportunity to escape to be with her lover, D"Lys who claims to be a Voodoo priest. Tamaris, feeling guilty for letting her escape sets out to find her with the aid of Mammy Pleasant an abolitionist and Voodoo queen and old friend of her father. Can Tamaris trust this mysterious woman? What deadly plot have Victorine and D"Lys concocted and how does Tamaris figure into it? And will Alain get back in time to foil their plans? The evil plans are more devious and far-reaching than Tamaris and Alain even had an inkling of. It will take all of their courage and determination to survive. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Review by Publishers Weekly - February 14, 1977
Norton, better known to science fiction readers, here constructs a velvety smooth novel of romantic suspense. A Gothic, actually, with an orphaned miss hired as companion to a headstrong young contemporary, this moves from New York to San Francisco of the legendary Mammy Pleasant, a sorcerer-like madame of Gold Rush days who figures prominently in the mystery. At issue is the psyche of an heiress in a contest between family and other-worldly forces.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

2020 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1977) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-23135-6, 978-0-449-23135-7, $1.50, 238pgs. ~ cover by Harry Bennett
  • (2001) Published by Thorndike Press, HC, 0-786-23732-5, 416pg ~ cover by unknown ~ Large Print
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, eISBN 978-1-937957-58-2, DM, $3.99, 221pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, eISBN 978-1-497656-96-3, DM, $3.99, 221pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1994) Published in Nizhny Novgorod, by Parallel and in Tula, by Filin, 5-860-67005-2 and 5-729-30020-4, HC, 244pg ~ cover by C. Achilleos & illustrations by E. Limanowa ~ Russian title Мастер зверей [Beast master]


    • "The Beast Master" as "Master of animals" ~ translation by T. Zavyalova, p. 5-176
    • "Lord of Thunder" as "God of Thunder" ~ translation by T. Zavyalova, p. 177-324
    • "Velvet Shadows" ~ translation by N. Rezanova, p. 325-542


  • (1996) Published in Moscow, by Sigma Press, 5-859-49086-0, HC, 416pg ~ cover by T. White ~ Russian title Бархатные тени [Velvet Shadows]


    • "Velvet Shadows" ~ translation by N. Rezanova, pp. 4-261
    • "Ride the Green Dragon" as "Riding a Green Dragon" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 262-415


Ukrainian Omnibus Editions~

  • (2018) Published in Kyiv, Ukraine by Globe (Fanzine), no ISSBN, HC, 724pg ~ cover by Rodney Matthews ~ Ukrainian title …Все кошки серы [...All Cats Are Sulfur] ~ Limited to 10 copies


    • "Moustrap" as "The Mousetrap" ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 7-13
    • "All Cats are Gray" as "... All cats are sulfur" ~ translation by E. Drozd, pp. 14-21
    • " Gifts of Asti" as ~ translation by N. Rezanova, pp. 22-34
    • "Nine Threads of Gold" as "Nine Golden Threads" ~ translation by I. Togoyeva, pp. 35-65
    • "Long Night of Waiting" ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 66-77
    • "London Bridge" ~ translation by N. Rezanova, pp. 78-90
    • "Velvet Shadows" ~ translation by N. Rezanova, pp. 91-282
    • "The Prince Commands" as "The Prince orders" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 283-416
    • "Star Man's Son" as "The Son of Star Man" ~ translation by V. Fedorov, pp. 417-574
    • "Ralestone Luck" ~ "Luck of the Railstones" ~ translation by V. Shcherbakova, pp. 575-722

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