Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts, especially since her mother has worked as a fraudulent medium for a decade. Violet has taken part in enough of her mother’s tricks to feel more than a little jaded about anything supernatural. The ghosts, however, believe in Violet and she’s been seeing them everywhere. One ghost in particular needs Violet to use her emerging gift to solve her murder …and prevent the ghost’s twin sister from suffering the same fate.
Alyxandra Harvey has endured huge success with her vampire series The Drake Chronicles, and I’m sure many of her fans will be very eager to read her latest offering, a new young adult historical supernatural novel – Haunting Violet.
Set in Victorian England and focusing on a time when séances and mediums were very much the height of entertainment in upper class society. However, Violet’s mother is a fraud. A single mother who has no option but to provide for herself and Violet so as they can live some semblance of a comfortable life, but Violet herself is drawn into her mother’s work and forced to make sure all the little ‘tricks’ are in place before the séance begins, with the help of her friend Colin. However, Violet has one thing her mother doesn’t – the true gift of a medium. She can see ghosts, and it isn’t long before one is haunting her day in and day out. It is left to Violet, Colin, and their friend Elizabeth to help solve the murder of Rowena and find out how she really drowned.
When I first started reading this I found it a bit of a struggle to get into and kept putting it to one side in favour of other books I was reading at the time. However, once I’d sat down and given it a proper chance I quickly got drawn into the story and its characters. Harvey has clearly researched the Victorian era extremely thoroughly as well as that of the history of mediums at the time. It all feels very authentic which can often be a hard thing to achieve. Violet and Elizabeth often come across as slightly more modern than what they perhaps should have been, but this is undoubtedly what draws in the reader. Violet has an unmistakeable voice as she struggles with the restrictions of her class and her society. She is a young girl with no wealth and no chance to really make anything of herself – she is too pretty to be a governess and has no talent with a sewing needle. Therefore her only option left is to marry someone who can provide for her, but with the affections of the carefree Colin ever present it becomes exceedingly hard to do her duties. Violet’s mother is certainly quite a character. She has no qualms with being a fraud, but fears the day that it will all go wrong and she will be exposed and forced back into the lower class of society, where they really belong. But being a single mother in Victorian England is no easy job and as wrong as it may seem to Violet at times, her mother is providing a living for them the best way she knows how.
There are some brilliant characters in the story and the whole story definitely feels like a good old fashioned ‘who done it’ tale. I was constantly guessing who killed Rowena and what the real truth of the matter was, and I was pleased to find that the answer wasn’t overly obvious. I loved the affection between Colin and Violet and it was a pleasure to read. It wasn’t over-done or made into some sickening secret love affair. It was honest and simple.
I’m not sure if this is part of a series or not but it definitely feels like it could be continued. Alyxandra Harvey clearly has a talent for writing historical young adult fiction and I hope she does continue this as it could become something great, especially in the way of Violet’s talents developing.
Haunting Violet is published by Bloomsbury and is out now.