Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Review - Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet
Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 4th July
My rating: 4.5 out of 5

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?

I found myself completely engrossed in this part murder mystery, part ghost story set in Victorian England. Violet is the illegitimate daughter of Celeste a fake spiritualist medium who is forced to assist her mother in her fake seances. As her mother becomes the most famous medium in London they are invited to the country estate of Lord Jasper to participate in a large seance which Celeste hopes could turn their fortunes forever. Violet who doesn't actually believe in ghosts, finds herself facing the ghost of a young girl called Rowena who drowned in mysterious circumstances nearby a year ago. Ghostly Rowena wants to warn her twin sister Tabitha who is also in danger and wants Violet, who now finds herself seeing all types of ghosts all around her, uncover her murderer.

The characters really made the book for me. Violet's mother Celeste was a fantastically written love to hate her kind of character. She shamelessly preys on rich widowers who want to speak to their recently deceased loved ones, she flirts with much younger and much older men, wears colourful dresses to gain attention (which is so not done in Victorian England) I loved the descriptions of her at a seance going into a trance and turning into Tallulah the temple dancer from Egypt, and prancing around the parlour with her bare shoulders exposed (shock horror). She is however, unbelievably cruel to Violet, poor Violet isn't allowed to call her mother when rich handsome young men are around and after a few sherries Celeste becomes nasty and even violent.

Violet is an instantly likeable character, I felt so sorry for her in her threadbare dresses, often hungry and  having to put up with her mother's behaviour. Like most girls of her age and status Violet had no choice but to go along with her mothers scams, marriage or the workhouse would be her only escape. Violet does have the very loveable Colin, the Irish orphan Violet's mother took in to assist with her fake seances. Colin only stays to protect Violet and their friendship slowly turns to romance.

The chilling descriptions of Rowena's ghost were fantastically frightening. Violet can see the ghost dripping in water, she can smell the water lilies and feel the damp cold when Rowena approaches, with water flowing down the walls following Violet she feels as though she is also drowning it actually made me shiver reading it.

I found myself glued to Haunting Violet, it's a well paced story with lots of twists and turns that kept me on my toes throughout, the ghostly gothic Victorian setting and well written characters made it a thoroughly enjoyable read.


  1. Oh, I wasn't sure about this one, but your review makes it sounds really good. I'll have to add it to my TBR pile.

  2. When I first saw this story I though, ghost story meets Victorian England? Yes please! I am so glad to see that it lived up to the hype! I'm really looking forward to reading this book!

    Bonnie @ HandsAndHome


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