10 July 2011


Haunting Violet
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
UK release date: July 2011
Genre: Paranormal, YA, Historical fiction

Summary: Violet Willoughby is the daughter of a fraudulent medium and incorrigible flirt. Living in Victorian London they swindle grieving widows by setting up ghostly parlour tricks, earning enough money for Violet's mother to seduce and deceive her way through genteel society.
When Violet starts seeing ghosts including one who wants her murderer to be discovered, she is not only shocked but rather perturbed that they would visit her. After all, Violet doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Review: Haunting Violet is a ghostly murder mystery set in Victorian times, where family respectability, social nobility and money is everything.

Violet lives with her mother, who will do anything to wear beautiful dresses, flirt with rich men and work her way up the social ladder. Violet is pressed into helping at séances as well as courting the young and rich Xavier, so she can marry well and drag the family out of poverty.

Despite having a controlling mother Violet has to pickpockets and scavenge to stay on the bread-line, which means she is capable and determined, not your typical swooning lady. Her circumstances and feelings of guilt over deceiving others, make her instantly likeable. The fondness and playfulness between her and Colin is exciting and heartwarming. He might not be rich, but he understands and cares for Violet. And who could dislike a man who says "I'm not good enough for you either."?

I loved learning about the different spiritualist tricks they used to make people think they were being visited by ghosts - Violet had a cumbersome pair of bellows strapped to her legs so she can produce blasts of cold air. Whilst there is an element of humour and excitement to the séances, you really feel for Violet who is so put upon by her mother as well as the unsuspecting clients who are deceived.

Whilst the plot wasn't filled with shocking twists, the pacing and mystery was gripping and the writing seamless. The Victorian setting and language is very well done - you can really feel the coal smog and grime of London and the opulence of the country manor and the women's dresses. It's a time period that I find fascinating, and Alyxandra Harvey really brought it to life.

A ghostly murder mystery packed with spiritualist illusions, sumptuous dresses and eerie apparitions, Haunting Violet is a Victorian extravaganza. 

Rating: 4*


karen! said...

For some reason I've been skipping over the reviews of this book that show up in my reader, but then I saw yours and decided to read it (you're in my "visits and comments" folder rather than the immense and often overwhelming "standard book blogs" folder). I'm quite intrigued by Spiritualism so _Haunting Violet_ might be a good book for me to check out. I'm also going to point a friend of mine who is really into Spirtualism to your review.

Jules said...

I've read quite a few great reviews of this book lately and it is certainly one that I want to read for myself!

Great review

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

I love the spiritualist movement of the Vistorian era, and all the hoaxes and chicanery that went on. Sounds like a damn good read :D