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?
HAUNTING VIOLET by Alyxandra Harvey is a huge departure from her popular YA vampires series, The Drake Chronicles. At it’s heart, it’s a murder mystery, but one embroiled with ghosts and romance and an atmospheric setting so vivid that I felt transported to mid 1800’s England for several engrossing hours.
The narrative voice in HAUNTING VIOLET was fantastic. Violet’s way of looking at the world and her situation was fascinating. Given her circumstances, a poor girl forced into a life of grifting and pickpocketing to help her charlatan Spiritualist mother con grieving people out of money, she easily could have become a character so deeply mired in self-pity that nothing could pull her out, or have been so bitter and waspish that readers wouldn’t care about her plight. But Violet was neither those things. She was capable and determined and felt deeply for those around her. If she could have found a way out of her life she would have taken it.
Speaking of Violet, I always begin historical novels with a giant fear: that the author will impose modern sensibilities and ideas into a time period were they don’t belong. Thankfully Harvey doesn’t do that. Apart from a few words and expressions that were a bit too modern, Violet is 100% believable as a product of her time. She fully understands the rules of the time period that she lives in and doesn’t rage against them in a way that would be completely foreign to a character from that time. Rather, like a Jane Austen heroine, she is smart enough to find ways to make those constraints work for her. I admired that about her immensely.
HAUNTING VIOLET is very different from The Drake Chronicles. It has a more serious and mature tone. There is still quite a bit of humor sprinkled throughout, but it is more of a witty humor. And I can’t overlook the romance which was really beautiful to experience. The book is written as a standalone novel, but I can easily imagine it turning into a series and hope that the sales of this spooky historical mystery warrant more stories about Violet.
About the author
- Review: Towering by Alex FlinnMay 18, 2013