Contact me at lucyvictoriabrown@gmail.com because I'm always up for a natter about anything. Well, mostly.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

This is another book I was drawn to by the cover initially. Because I'm not an avid reader of Young Adult fiction I hesitated a bit but after looking inside and seeing the Victorian setting I was enamoured. This are the two covers of Haunting Violet. The one I was drawn to is the one on the left but I think the second one would've caught my eye too.


The novel's premise is simple: Violet has been a participant in her mother's fake seances since she was young but suddenly finds herself hearing and seeing spirits. Dragged into the life of a drowned girl, she tries to decipher who murdered her. There are many twists and turns in the plot and I have to say that I wasn't bored at all.

The Victorian setting is invoked to great effect, but not distractingly so. There are a couple of scenes that stick vividly in the mind, primarily Violet's trek to the grave of her murdered spirit - an eerie scene that was well written and startled me a fair bit. Violet's mother is utterly self-absorbed and unpredictable, with a little bit of a sherry problem. Colin, Violet's faithful ally, is an interesting character whose assistance is helpful but doesn't overshadow Violet's own role - he's involved in the story but it's definitely her story. The rest of the cast is varied, with a few stereotypes in lesser roles, but all consistently written.

For the most part the language holds to historical convention. Of course, it's a stripped down version and there are a few uses of words that had me raising eyebrows but, as I found when I whizzed through the final third, it ceased to bother me as the plot picked up pace. The ghostly aspect of the novel naturally adds another dimension to the Victorian setting but it's very sensible (as far as ghostly apparitions can be!).

At just over three hundred pages this is a brief read but certainly an enjoyable one. I'm glad the cover enticed me in - it's got all the ingredients of a Victorian sensation novel but with characters we identify with today. 

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