Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

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? (From Goodreads)

I haven't read Harvey's Drake Chronicles, but I jumped at the to read her upcoming mystery/romance about spiritualists and ghosts. Violet is an accessory to a con run by her mother. She helps fool the wealthy into believing that her mother is a spiritualist, able to speak to the loved ones of the upper class citizens in England. Together with her mother, and their servants Colin and Marjorie, they head off to the estate of Lord Jasper to hold seances. While there, Violet comes to the realization that she has the ability to see ghosts, the real ones. This leads to a murder mystery that had me on the edge of my seat, and guessing right up until the big reveal. Not only that, but there were a couple of scenes that creeped me out (I read them at night, bad choice).

I don't expect every historical fiction novel, YA or not, to have complete historical accuracy. Harvey didn't live in Victorian England, but it's clear that she did he research. If you check out her blog she even has some photographs posted showing the fashions mentioned within the book. I'm not a qualified historical facts nitpicker, but nothing seemed out of place. I always appreciate when an author mentions upfront that they spent their time going over information about the setting in which they've chosen to place their characters.

Although I loved it, I can definitely see how some readers will wish that Violet had been a bit more developed, and the romance seemed to come about rather quickly. I personally didn't feel this way, because the mystery kept me in such suspense. Violet was battling between hating the way her mother conned the upper class as a means to raise their family in society, and still feeling some loyalty to the (negligent) woman.

All in all, it was an enjoyable historical mystery. I'm really hoping that Harvey decides to write a follow-up book so that we can see more of the characters.

Haunting Violet
By Alyxandra Harvey
Published by Walker Children's Books
352 Pages
Received for Review
Rating: A


Jenny N. said...

All this time I had no idea Haunting Violet was a historical novel. Now the summary makes sense as a arranged marriage sounded out of place.

Julie said...

An A Rating! Great :) I've heard terrific things about this so far. Love historical books!

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