Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

I loved the premise of Haunting Violet – set in the 19th Century (although the cover certainly doesn’t suggest this) and centring around elaborately faked séances, the effective way in which Violet’s mother earns her living; Violet herself disagrees with conning the rich and naïve, and longs for the day when she can break away from her selfish mother in the form of marriage…that is until she starts to see the dead for herself. However, for me, the actual novel itself fell short of this superb premise. I also found that there were eerie similarities between this and The Body Finder – both main characters are called Violet, both feel the dead, both fall in love with a childhood friend and both feature murderers – but I’m sure that they were merely interesting coincidences.

The writing was good, but I’m always hesitant to read period novels as the author always appears to be trying too hard to write in the appropriate style of that era, and more often than not it comes across and makes for bad reading, which I found was the case with Haunting Violet, including dialog that appears far too modern, and I think this was the reason I found it hard to get into at first. The line breaks used for dramatic effect were far too overused and I felt that there were too many characters to keep track of, and many of them were dull and not at all developed.

I was slightly disappointed to see how much the romance aspect overtook the ghost aspect, which is what I was hoping the novel would be mainly about as I adore a good ghost story, and it’s rare to find in the YA genre. Add to that the fact that I found the romance very badly played out, abrupt and featuring a dreaded much overdone love triangle and I was pretty let down by Haunting Violet

However, the mystery element of ‘who done it’ was quite good, and had me guessing for quite a while, though the red herrings were obviously so. I wish Harvey would have included more of an explanation as to why Violet suddenly started to see ghosts, as the ability clearly wasn’t hereditary. The séance scenes were very well done and the most interesting scenes in my opinion. Most of the characters were likeable, especially Violet’s friend Elizabeth who is charmingly cheeky and Violet’s self-centred mother – a love-to-hate character. Overall, it’s a quick read for a rainy day, especially if you’re a historical romance fan who’s partial to the odd ghost story – it’s not brilliant but nor is it awful. 

[SYNOPSIS: 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.]


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