Friday, 9 September 2011

Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: 9th July 2011
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

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 absolutely loved this book! Usually I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but Haunting Violet was really easy to read, had amazing characters and had a gripping storyline - I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Violet is the sixteen-year-old daughter of Celeste Willoughby, a famous Spiritualist and medium. Everyone is fascinated by Celeste’s abilities to communicate with the dead – but Violet knows that it’s all fake. Her mother has no psychic talent whatsoever – in fact, the only thing she can do better than other people is lie. Violet is fed up of being treated as a tool by her mother and is desperate to escape her life of fraud, but the only way she can leave is if she marries well - and not being of noble blood means this is unlikely to happen. But when Violet starts to see things – spirits she doesn’t even believe in – she is soon sucked into investigating the mystery behind a young girl’s death. Everyone says Rowena died in a terrible accident, and before, Violet would have no reason to question their word. But Violet has seen Rowena’s ghost – and the bruises around her neck. She’s sure Rowena’s death wasn’t an accident and is determined to find the murderer, but someone knows that Violet suspects foul play, and will do anything to stop her from discovering the truth.

Violet was such an incredible character. I liked her right from the start – she was sassy, smart, kind, funny and everything you’d ever want in a friend. She was so strong-willed, I really have no idea how she put up with her mother’s awful behaviour for so long. I would have gone crazy living with that woman, honestly, what a despicable woman.  I really felt for Violet throughout the whole novel - she was treated so unfairly by someone who was supposed to be her parent, and she was forced to help con people out of their money – she felt guilty that she had to lie to so many people, but then also knew her family needed the money to survive. Her circumstances were unfortunate – she never knew her father, and her only real friend was Colin, who worked for her mother. Still, she always tried to make the best of her situation, and I really liked that she was different to all the other girls she had to associate with – she knew she ought to behave as a delicate flower that always needed a man’s attention is she ever were to have a chance at marriage, but something inside just couldn’t make her do it – she was too strong and feisty for that, and I thought it was great how she wanted to be herself instead of changing her personality to suit others. I also really liked her humour  too – she could be really funny and even sarcastic at times, especially when with Colin, and made me laugh quite a bit
Colin was another amazing character – he was handsome, funny and thoughtful, and it was clear he cared for Violet. He also wasn’t the controlling type, and while he wanted to protect her, he knew Violet too well to think she would stay put safe and sound while other people were in danger. Most of the time he came with her, or helped her, when she was doing something risky, and I loved all their interaction. Colin was one of the only people who could make Violet really laugh and smile, and was also one of the few that really understood her - I think they were so sweet together. I loved the way their romance developed – in fact, I wish there had been more of it, because it was just so excellent! I found myself hoping Violet would bump into Colin at every corner, just so they could spend more time together. I also really liked it when Colin got jealous because Violet was receiving attention from another guy (Xavier) – some of the comments he made were hilarious and I couldn’t help but laugh!

Elizabeth was Violet’s best friend, and was the lively, chatty, fun type, which I really liked about her. She was a noble, but befriended Violet anyway and didn’t seem to care at all that she was from a different background. She was a good friend to Violet, and always tried to help her out and cheer her up, and was always making jokes and comments that would give them both the giggles. I really liked Elizabeth, and would definitely like to have a friend like her in real life!

I really loved the world Alyxandra Harvey created in this book – it was definitely a believable nineteenth century setting, and I could clearly picture everything that was happening in my head – especially the séances and ghost appearances, which I loved reading about. While I thought a few things were a little predictable, I definitely enjoyed the mystery in Haunting Violet, and was kept engrossed the entire time I was reading.

Overall, Haunting Violet was a brilliant ghost story, probably a new favourite of mine, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys great romance and a gothic atmosphere!


  1. I keep meaning to buy this one! I've read so many great things about it and I actually really love historical fiction. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Great review :D

  2. Great review! I've been a fan of this author for some time now, and I'm looking forward to reading this book. Love historical fiction.

  3. Ahhhhh why have I not read this yet?! I've had a copy for weeks! And then I read you gushing about it and I think I've already fallen in love with Violet and Colin's characters, they sounds so awesome :D Really happy you loved this, making me eager to bump it up on my tbr! Brilliant review.

  4. Sounds so good! Can't wait to read this one soon!

  5. Fantastic review! I loved everything about Haunting Violet--the setting, the characters, the mystery... glad to hear you did, too! :)
    - Lauren

  6. awesome review! I'm not usually a huge histfic person either but I loved this too

  7. i really liked this book a lot too! you're right colin and violet were adorable together!

  8. Like you, I am not a big fan of historical fiction but I really enjoyed Haunting Violet. =) I loved Colin too!!!

  9. I haven't read this one but just from the way you described Colin, I have a feeling that I'll love him too and their romance. I always love it when the MC sticks to her personality and refuses to change herself to please others. Great review, Liz!

  10. I haven't read this book either, but I am a fan of historical fiction. I haven't read a ghost story recently, though.

    I would probably kill for the model's dress. So pretty.

  11. Really glad you enjoyed this one too =)


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