Title: Haunting Violet
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Walker Books
May Contain Spoilers
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 was a teeny bit apprehensive when I picked up Haunting Violet. Why? Because I love Alyxandra Harvey’s Drake Chronicles, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be as charmed by a story without them. I was wrong, and I enjoyed this book very much. It reads like an old skool Gothic romance, and even reminded me of Barbara Michaels’/Elizabeth Peters’ older works.
I loved the setting, which is a house party in Victorian England. There is nothing I would like better than to attend a house party at a country estate with a ginormous wall-to-ceiling library, gardens, and sumptuous meals. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a life of leisure, reading, strolling, and stuffing their faces for a few weeks. The murder and ghosts I could cheerfully do without, but the rest would be the ideal vacation!
Violet is a great character who is caught up in a web of lies spun by her mother, and she has no way of gracefully freeing herself from a life of deceit. Worse, she is forced to help her mother fool wealthy patrons into believing that her mother is a spiritual medium. Violet hates this, and she hates taking advantage of grieving people. Her mother has no such reservations, and she tricks and lies her way from one benefactor to the next. Violet despairs at ever freeing herself from her mother’s harsh control, and resignedly does as she is ordered. Though fleecing rich people of their money doesn’t sit well with her, it does put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
Violet doesn’t believe in ghosts, so it comes as a huge shock when she actually finds herself seeing them. Everywhere! Once she and her mother arrive at Lord Jasper’s enormous estate, Violet’s life will never be the same again. A disgruntled spirit keeps haunting her, and the young woman just won’t leave her alone. As Violet begins to piece together the mystery behind Rowena’s death, she unwittingly puts her own life in danger. Rowena didn’t drown as everyone believes; instead, she was murdered, and Rowena wants her murderer unmasked.
Creepy and suspenseful, I couldn’t put the book down. I loved Violet and felt so sorry for her. Her mother will never win the Mother of Year award, and would probably be reported to social services if this book took place in modern times. The stress of having to deal with her demanding mother added so much tension to the story. Violet still doesn’t really believe in ghosts, even though she can see them, and she certainly doesn’t want her mother to know that she’s suffering from these unsettling visions. Ever eager to find news ways to exploit her patrons, Violet’s mother would only continue to take advantage of her and make her life even more miserable. It’s a hard secret to keep, because Rowena is a very persistent ghost, and she just won’t leave Violet alone.
The romance is sweet and convincing, the murder mystery is compelling, and Violet is a wonderful protagonist. Though the ending ties up all of the loose ends, I could easily see more adventures in store for Violet.
Review copy provided by publisher