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?
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 Amazon.co.uk, click here to go to the page.