Haunting Violet


Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts, but they believe in her. Violet has spent years taking part in her mother's elaborately faked seances, putting the rich and powerful in touch with the dead, and their success has brought them a life of luxury they could only have dreamed of and Violet the prospect of a society marriage. The last thing Violet expected was to start seeing and hearing the dead for real. But now she is haunted day and night by the ghost of a drowned girl who won't let her rest until her murderer is uncovered. Violet must use her talents to unravel the mystery surrounding the girl's death, and quickly before the killer strikes again. I really adored this book. I read it over two days stuck at home inside due to rainy, stormy weather. I must say, if you get a chance to read this snuggled up inside in the winter time it will definitely improve your reading experience! It's got romance, it's got ghosts and it's a murder mystery. It is set in 1872 in Victorian England which is a period in history that I'm always fascinated by. Especially the Spiritualist movement which was fashionable at the time. I was reading another book recently which discusses the fascination with death that was part of the culture of the time, and I think Alyxandra Harvey perfectly captures this period in history. 

Like all good historical fiction, the details evoke the setting but they don't swamp the story. The clothing, homes, estates, gardens, furniture and food is all perfectly depicted and makes the setting come alive. It's got a bit of the Jane Eyre about it, but also in Violet's character, she's a self reliant young woman who knows her own truth and she is full of integrity, but she's not too strong to fall in love and admit her true feelings. She takes actions that don't necessarily serve herself and she acts to benefit others. All the other characters are also interesting. Elizabeth is Violet's best friend and she is hilarious and brings warmth to the book. Violet's mother is suitably horrid and Colin is a wonderful love interest. The romance is quite chaste which is appropriate for both the setting and the intended audience, but is still swoon-worthy. It's really for readers aged 12 and up, so its character development and some of the plot development is a little less developed than might be expected from a book for older ya's, but for me that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book at all. I found it hard to put down, I was submersed in the story and I was kept guessing about who the murderer was right up until the very end. I haven't read the author's other series, The Drake Chronicles, but I'll definitely be adding them to my list.

Desires of The Dead


Violet has a curious gift, the ability to sense the echoes emitted by murder victims. Only her boyfriend Jay and her closest family know. But when she locates the body of a missing boy sought by the FBI she puts herself firmly on their radar. As if dealing with regular calls from the FBI isn't enough, threatening notes are being left on her doorstep, and she feels disturbing echoes around the home of Jay's new best friend. Violet needs answers fast. She can't wait any more, time is ticking. Violet should feel closer to Jay now he's moved from best friend to boyfriend, but she hasn't told him what's worrying her. She tells herself she's protecting him, but is their fledgling relationship strong enough to cope? I really loved The Body Finder, the first book in this series, so I was really looking forward to reading this. It has two of the things I loved about the romance feels real and genuine, and the writing is very visual. The scenes in the snow are so realistic, it's so creepy and the tension is terrifying. Again, I think the relationship between Violet and Jay is a realistic and healthy portrayal of a teenage relationship. Having said that, I did find some of Violet's hesitation to share the truth of what was happening with Jay very frustrating. I know that kind of thing provides some tension in a plot, but I really found it unnecessary. In the first book the romantic tension is "will they get together"? 

In the second book, now that they're together, I guess there's supposed to be some kind of tension, and the most obvious one is "will they stay together"? But this is a cliche used so often, and in this book, the choices both Violet and Jay make were slightly out of character. When they finally decide to be open and honest with each other the story flows much better. I found the introduction of the FBI element really interesting, and I liked that it isn't all what it seems at first. The introduction of the characters related to this element was great and I'm really interested in finding out more about them and seeing where the story goes next. I'm also really interested to see how this influences Violet's feelings about her gift. The story line in relation to the killer was really awesome. It's quite different from other books which is great, because it was fresh and interesting. It was also a bit of a hark back to the kinds of thrillers written for teens in the 80's. It so reminded me of the Point Horror series which I loved as a teen, so I was pretty excited to read a story line kind of like those old gems, very nostalgic. I'm really looking forward to reading on with the third and final book, The Last Echo.