“1865 - I was nine years old when my mother decided it was time I took part in the family business. I was pretty enough now, she said, that I might be of use. Id grown into my ears and my long neck and might be clever enough to handle myself. Besides which, she claimed, she had no other option.”
Violets mother is a medium, a fake medium. Coning people into believing she is seeing the ghosts of loved ones using the tricks of the trade she is invited to a country manor to show off her “talents.” Having grown up and participated in the séances Violet never believed in spirits or the spirit world. That is until the spirits started trying to connect with her. Coming across the ghost of Rowena, a girl her age who drowned the year previous, Violet knows there was something more to her death than everyone is letting on. Trying to discover what happened whilst also playing pretend for her mother Violet might have taken on more than she can manage.
Following amazing praise across the blogosphere and a summary that I couldn’t help but be intrigued by I wanted this book so badly... but then just before it came out I put myself on a buying ban... needless to say as soon as that ban was over I bought the kindle I had so graciously begged my friends for for my birthday! As soon as the kindle arrived I did what anyone would do... I bought books, and then I read the first one I bought. I’m glad it was Haunting Violet, as my very first kindle book definitely challenges others for one of the best books of the year!!
Having heard the praise for Haunting Violet I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to expectations. I’d heard that the story was spooky and the characters amazingly real, and the setting would remind you of an Austen or a Bronte book... and all these rumours couldn’t be closer to the truth!
The story takes you back to the late 1800s. The setting reminded me of older books like Austen and stuff, but obviously a little more modern. I liked that the majority of the story was set in a country house and thanks to the amazing writing style that Harvey adopts I could seriously see myself walking alongside Violet and Emma across the grounds and gardens of the house. I have a soft spot for books that contain elegant gowns, manicured lawns and handsome men but more often than not the female main characters of these books annoy the hell out of me... that was not the case here though.
Violet’s life is pretty much a lie. Having taught herself elocution and the ways of the peerage, she could get by well enough but her cockney came out every now and then and her thoughts, which you get a lot of as he is the narrator of the story, were very much from her roots. She constantly worried that she wasn’t be ladylike enough and I loved her for that. She was a strong character who wasn’t afraid to run around in her pantaloons should the need arise and for the most part she didn’t really care that much what the other annoying women thought of her. The book also featured some other strong characters in Elizabeth and Rowena, but I think Harvey did well to keep the strong characters close to their backgrounds; with Elizabeth being constantly scolded by her mother and still acting like the Debutante she was meant to be for the majority. Rowena had to be strong after what she had gone through but, I guess anyone who wanted their deaths avenged would be strong!!
The male characters where very much how you would expect for the time period; many of them were younger, posh boy types which annoyed me a little but others weren’t like that. Colin was a brilliant character, again probably aided by the fact he wasn’t a poch boy, he was an Irish orphan boy taken in by Violets mother. Also Lord Jasper was an intriguing character, I liked him from the start and I was very worried when certain events made me question him.
The story was fabulously spooky. It had all the elements of a ghost story, complete with water seeping through walls and cold mists coming over the hills. I the atmosphere was created brilliantly through the words and descriptions Harvey used and I couldn’t put the book down for fear that I would look up and see a young girl’s face screaming at me!!
What I think I loved the most about Haunting Violet was the romance. There were definite romance elements for our main character but they didn’t detract from the actual story. Violet had two suitors in this one and I know which I was rooting for from the very beginning, but neither distracted her from Rowena’s terrible demise. I loved the love story of Rowena too and I thought that it was true love at its best.
I loved Haunting Violet, it was honestly the type of spiritualist ghost story that you want to read, it was informative, entertaining and utterly breathtaking in places. I was rooting for Violet the whole way through and I actually didn’t want it to end!!
Haunting Violet came out on July 4th, published by Bloomsbury. My copy was purchased on my kindle.