Monday, 27 June 2011

Review:Haunting Violet

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Published: 4th July 2011 UK (available now)
Publisher: Bloomsbury PLC

Description from Goodreads:

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?

My thoughts:

I love books set in the Victorian era. I’m not a huge historical fic fan, but anything Victoriana I will make an exception for. I love Harvey’s Drake Chronicles series, so I was eager to see if her new standalone novel lived up to my expectations and it did not disappoint. Haunting Violet follows the story of a fake spiritualist medium and her daughter, Violet who does not believe in ghosts and yet, ironically, can see them and converse with them. The book is part murder mystery part paranormal intrigue and fully entertaining.

I loved Violet’s character instantly. She’s got a pretty bad lot in life, forced to go along with her mother’s outrageous schemes, but she’s not bitter or self-pitying in the least. Her friend Elizabeth was definitely my favourite-she was absolutely hilarious and provided much needed comic relief to the plot. I really liked Colin too, and I enjoyed the development of his relationship with Violet, it was very fitting of the time, and it was enjoyable to see a relationship that had clearly happened over time and not sprung up out of nowhere.
The mystery element of the plot was done exceedingly well-I think I suspected everyone except the actual culprit, everyone in the story seemed to have a motive, without it appearing forced. I loved how the story unfolded slowly, but with enough pace that the plot was kept interesting throughout. The  séance scenes were fantastically written-I loved reading about all the tricks Violet’s mother employed to fool her guests and it was obvious this had been well researched which I appreciated.

Harvey’s writing style was impeccable as always, but a few phrases stuck out as definitely non-Victorian. I wasn’t ridiculously bothered by their presence, but I definitely noted them.

The supporting characters were as well thought out and embellished as the main ones, something I really admire in a book as making sure characters don’t seem as though they’re only included to further the storyline is one of the hardest things to get right in my opinion. I enjoyed reading the back stories of the characters we were given.

I thought the ending was perfect-what needed to be wrapped up was done so-but it wasn’t so happy that you were left with that dissatisfaction that comes with an unrealistic conclusion. I genuinely wanted the best for Violet, I wanted her to marry someone rich and live out her days in bliss-and that’s not something I can say often. I’m a sadistic reader, I like it when people die, when the love interest dies, when their parents die…you get my drift. But for Violet I wanted that happy ending and that is excellent character building on Harvey’s part.

Overall this was a spooky and thrilling piece with an overarching gothic feel that I adored. My only regret is that it was a standalone!

Haunting Violet is available now on, click here to go to the page.


  1. I really like the sound of this! I'm also intrigued by Victorian settings so I'll definitely have to add this to my list. Thanks for the review!

  2. This sounds like a really good story-- glad you enjoyed it!

    When I was first scrolling down and saw this cover I almost thought it was a cover-reveal for the book Rapture, which is the last in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, because it just looks so similar-- in fact, I think the dress the model is wearing on this book cover is the same one worn by the one in Torment! Weird, huh?

    Anyways, thanks for the great review!

    ~Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland

  3. Lea-I believe the cover was designed by the same person who designed the Fallen covers, so that's probably why! Thank you both for your comments =]

  4. I need to review this. Writing a post for somebody else and it's not going well.

    Really great review, i felt the same way. I tried not to think about how historically incorrect some things were, although it does make you double take.

  5. I'm not usually a fan of historical novels, but I like the sound of this! I haven't read the Drake Chronicles, but I'm really thinking I need to check out Alyxandra Harvey's work. Thanks for the great review!

  6. Elizabeth was my favorite too! And I loved the mystery in this story. Elizabeth and Violet were so much fun.

    There were so many suspicious characters, but not too many to make it annoying, which I loved.

    I'm really glad the author wrote this book and I love the UK cover even more than the US version.

    Great review. I agree with you on the ending. It wasn't a fairytale after all. I'm still hoping they'll have another book or two.

  7. So glad to hear you enjoyed this! I really can't wait to read it. :) Thanks for the awesome review!

  8. That cover designer really is amazing...I need to get hold of this ASAP. And I never knew it was a standalone-dammit! Glad you enjoyed this!

  9. Totally have to check this out!! Stand alone = awesome with SO many series lately!

    The Bookish Brunette

  10. We got this in at the shop today! I'm trying not to buy at the moment though but may have to after your review and 5 star rating!

  11. I was on the fence about this one but I think I'll read it now. Maybe even buy it.

  12. I really wanted to read this and now you've got me pumped. It's always awesome when secondary characters hold their own, it makes it feel more real and less like story. I like the UK cover better than the US one too. I'll have to order it on the book depository. Great review Cait ;)

  13. Hmm I dont normally like spooky books but you just may have piqued my interest with this detailed and interesting review. Thank you!

  14. Sounds like my kind of book! I'm a big fan of the authors other work.

  15. I'm kind of a sadistic reader, too. ;) Love books with that Gothic feel, and being set in a the Victorian era is a bonus! Awesome review, and I must say I'm crazy about that cover.

  16. Thanks for commenting on my Haunting Violet review! Yes, it seems like we had similar thoughts but you ended up enjoying it more than me overall because of your higher rating.

  17. I have really been wanting to read this one.


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