Amanda's Reviews > Haunting Violet

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
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's review
Feb 07, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: paranormal-mysteries

Sixteen year old Violet has been assisting her widowed spiritualist medium mother since she was nine, so she is well aware that she's a fraud, playing people for money and fame. Celeste is also poor and is not a widow, in fact she had Violet out of wedlock. But she is desperate to keep up appearances, so as well as lying about her past, abilities and living above her means, she has even taken in two orphans - Colin and Marjorie - over the years to pose as her butler and hand maid.

Celeste Willoughby's game is working and she is respected enough that she has been invited to stay at the estate of a local Lord with other spiritualists for a week, as he is interested in the world of the paranormal. So Celeste brings along Violet, Colin and Marjorie to help her to fake her seances as usual, then she spends the rest of her time looking for a rich husband.

Violet has unsurprisingly grown up to be sceptic and wants to get married quickly, purely to escape her lying, social climbing mother, whom she can't stand for playing with the emotions of grieving families and who drinks 'medicinal' brandy constantly. So when Celeste lines up a rich suiter for Violet, she is quite excited by the prospect of stating afresh, out of reach of her money grabbing mother.

But Violet now has a secret of her own; since arriving out the estate of Lord Jasper, she has begun seeing ghosts. She may not believe in ghosts, but they certainly believe in her and want her to pay attention to them. Violet can't go on living in denial for too long, as the ghost of a drowned girl has zeroed in on her and won't be ignored. And since it looks like her death wasn't a accident like everyone believes - she was murdered - Violet will have to investigate the matter, before the ghost's surviving twin meets a similar fate.

So Violet has to solve a murder that officially never happened, keep her abilities hidden from her opportunistic mother and avoid scaring of a suiter who thinks that she's a rich girl, from a respectable family. Easy peasy.


I love how the setting is in Victorian London and that the heroine is trying to pass as a middle/high class society girl, as we have way too many street wise, gun toting, smart mouthed, 'sassy' heroines in urban fantasy books. Reading how people used to fake seances in those days was especially interesting for me.

The author has a perfect grasp on the sights, sounds and 'rules' of the era perfectly and knows how to add twists into the plot without them coming across as 'soap opera'. The book is meant to be YA, but it doesn't read as something tweeny - anyone can read this, from 9 to 90.

I'd especially recommend this to fans of chelsea quinn yarbro, Coleen Gleason and Gail Carriger.
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