Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

This is a great Victorian ghost story. Told by Violet it isn't just a ghost story, it tells her tale of lies, deception and acceptance across the class system of 19th century England.

Violet's mother has been deceiving the gentry with parlour tricks, pretending to be a Medium or Spiritualist for any that will pay. With Violet is her childhood friend Colin, who her mother took in off the street. Together they fall into an adventure and along with Violet's friend Elizabeth who is a Duke's daughter (and doesn't know of Violets true past) they try and discover who murder poor Rowena.

In the beginning Violet is just an ordinary lower/middle class girl. Her nasty mother constantly threatens her with tales of working as a seamstress until her fingers bleed so Violet does whatever her mother bids her to do. Sadly Violet can do nothing to get away from her station in life other than go along with her mothers wishes.

When Violet arrives at Lord Jaspers house she starts seeing ghosts. What bothered me here was Violets reaction to her discovery. Instead of trying to figure out why the ghosts want her to purvey their messages she ignores them and pretends they aren't there. Except poor dead Rowena won't leave her alone. Xavier is a trademans son whose parents have been accepted in society because they are wealthy. When Xavier expresses his wish to marry Violet she doesn't know whether to accept. She likes him enough but has no romantic feelings towards him. But she does have feelings for Colin and he himself expresses as much to Violet. I couldn't help feeling that the romantic side of the book was a little forced. Especially as Colin, who Violet had known all her life, suddenly tells Violet how he feels. Why now?

Eventually Violets mother's secret is found out and, disgraced, they return to London and are set upon by an angry mob. Violets saving grace is Colin. She finally understands that he only stays in employment with her mother for her. But at what cost?

This book was unexpectedly good. I loved Violet and I understood why she was so afriad to get out from her mothers shadow. And Elizabeth was funny and kind to Violet all the way through.

The only things I can criticise are small. Firstly Autumn is referred to on one occassion as Fall. England doesn't have Fall, its an American name for the season. And also if the author wanted authenticity she could have written 'neighborhood' in the english way as 'neighbourhood'.

Other than that it was great to read a stand alone book, without having a whole series to go through to reach a conclusion. I enjoyed it and would gladly read more from Harvey.

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1 comment:

  1. Great review - I really enjoyed this one; Violet was one of my favourite MCs of 2011.


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