Book Reviews

[review] Haunting Violet – Alyxandra Harvey

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? 

Discovery: I first heard about this novel on Publisher’s Weekly, and after some research, I decided it was worth a read.

+     Setting. If there’s one thing that’s amazing about this book, it’s the research that went into creating Violet’s world. I read a lot of Regency romances, and often the poor working class is shunted to the side in favour of the peers. The Spiritualist society that Violet takes the reader into is well-researched and well-written. The mood of the book is also pitch-perfect, with the descriptions of the ghosts being appropriately creepy.

+     Premise. When it comes to supernatural stories, I prefer ghosts over vampires and werewolves, mainly because I’ve had experiences with them. Violet’s own discovery of her “sight” is paced well, and I liked that her own mother was the one faking everything. It sets Violet up as a foil to her mother, and gives her a chance to grow as a person away from her family.

–     Predictability. Haunting Violet may be about ghosts but it’s also a murder mystery. The first ghost that Violet sees is a girl who drowned a few years back and it becomes clear that Violet needs to find out who killed her. As soon as the reader is introduced to the cast of characters, it quickly becomes clear who the killer is and the motivations behind the murder. Unfortunately, I figured it out with 150 pages to go. It’s a good chase but if you already know who the killer is, the journey to the end can seem very tedious.

–     Romance. This is the aspect that really fell flat for me. I never felt like that relationship between Colin and Violet was necessary, so it was awkward when they had romantic scenes together. Truth be told, I thought they had a great sibling dynamic. As for Violet’s other relationship (with whom, I won’t say as it’s spoilery), I didn’t believe it for a second. It was very obvious that the relationship was never going to get off the ground. I think the story could have been improved with more focus on Violet’s own growth.

Recommendations: The younger spectrum of teen readers will enjoy the gothic tale that Harvey spins. I’m looking forward to see what she can craft next.

Rating: Good.

Go check out Alyxandra Harvey’s site and follow her on Twitter @alyxandrah.

Next review: Anastasia’s Secret, Susane Dunlap

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