Review of 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?

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This novel has a great gothic feel to it, set in the 1800's when the spiritualist craze was at a height. I loved that I found out some of the tricks that fake mediums used, although I'm not sure if they would have tied bellows to their daughter's legs but who knows? Maybe they would have done! The setting feels very realistic and I really did feel as if I was actually there, both in the grand country house and in the filthy London streets.

Violet's character really appealed to me as she's not your usual sort of Victorian girl. Before her mother became famous through her faked seances Violet was lower class and she keeps that mentality throughout the book. Preferring to escape with a novel over sipping tea, she keeps away from the society that her mother craves, keeping only a couple of friends - Colin and Elizabeth. When she discovers her gift and meets Rowena for the first time, she chooses to hide it but still tries her best to find Rowena's murderer.

I really liked Elizabeth' character in this, she's pretty vital to the plot in the sense that she reminds Violet to have fun and be a girl, and she's not afraid to go snooping throughout the house and ask people questions. Her infatuation with Frederic was really funny at times, although it was a shame he never seemed to notice her.

Violet's mother, however, was definitely a 'love-to-hate' character. She thinks higher of herself than she is, treats Violet like dirt and is constantly drinking. Later on she reveals her true nature and I hated her even more for it. Despite this, she was a vital addition to the story.

Violet and Colin's relationship really added to the story and it was nice to read about her falling for a character that appears from the beginning of the book and relates to her, instead of falling for the first rich guy that notices her, like Xavier Trethewey, who I didn't like at all. Colin really cares for Violet and I really felt for him when he was obviously jealous of Xavier, although he had no need to be.

The mystery surrounding Rowena's death is the main focus of the story and I think it was written very well, with lots of twists and turns, secret letters and stolen kisses...
Guessing the murderer was quite difficult for me (I used to guess easily but lately I'm rubbish), I think I suspected everyone but the actual killer, who I only vaguely remembered when they were revealed. At times it reminded me of a Miss Marple TV show, with many characters and many different motives. I do love those shows.

The cover I'm not too happy with. I liked it when I first received it but after reading this, I think I may try and buy the cover with the girl in the water as it makes more sense to me. I like the gothic feel to it but it just doesn't fit with the book in my opinion.

5/5

Received free from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

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