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Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet
by Alyxandra Harvey

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Release Date: June 21, 2011

Publisher: Walker
Source: borrowed/Public Library
Purchase: Book Depo. | Amazon | Kindle
About the Book:

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?
It wasn't easy making the switch from yesterday's werewolves to ghosts in the Victorian Era, but the transition was quick after a couple of chapters into Haunting Violet. While it's not--and it kinda couldn't be--the action-y book my bookish soul is forever yearning for, it was a delicious read nonetheless. Any YA novel that takes place in the mid-to-late 1800s is a novel I'll surely enjoy. Not to mention factoring in a likable, quirky heroine, a frantic ghost fueling an unsolicited murder investigation, and a gorgeous-looking manservant to add some romantic excitement!

I describe Violet Willoughby as quirky mostly due to a mix of her ludicrous upbringing and her own personality. Looking at this Victorian setting through her eyes was... unique, different from the more common approach of describing everything in painstaking detail. The snow was gathering slowly in the muddy streets as we left Cheapside. It turned the gray stones and dirty gutters into a landscape made of gingerbread and buttercream frosting. It made me hungry just to see it (2). With Violet narrating, I received a clear picture of what was surrounding her but the descriptions were colorful and simple, as opposed to dull and lengthy. Book lovers like myself will be happy to know that in Violet they'll find a kindred spirit. Her incessant desire to read and discover new books made me smile. Her disgust and resentment aimed at her mother is both justified and sympathy-inducing. She struck me as a sweetheart. Someone who can't stomach the way her mother takes advantage of other people's grief and pain, who can't quickly reject a nice guy even if she's starting to realize feelings for someone else, who can't turn her back on helping someone in need... even if that someone is the ghost of murdered young girl. Because of her innate kindness, no matter how much she wants to, she refuses to shy away from her newfound and still-forming psychic abilities if it means taking the easy way out and not helping this ghost find justice. She's courageous in that, despite the blatant warnings, she continues this very dangerous investigation into the ghost's death. Sure she annoyed me here and there, but it was mostly because I was frustrated at her and Colin's one-step-forward-two-steps-backward dance. Other than that, I held only positive feelings for Violet.

The murder mystery, I must say, was both easy and difficult to puzzle out. It took me a few tries to get it right, but even then it only happened toward the end anyway. So, technically my great mystery-solving skills didn't do me any good and instead I found myself genuinely perplexed. Still, unlike my feelings with Clarity, I agreed with explanation and villain. The murderer was a sensible choice, a clear-cut villain, and his motive was both logical and horrible. Perfect. The fact that Harvey stalled me from discovering the truth for as long as she had gives her major points on the plot. Plus, tagging along with Lizzie, Violet's closest friend other than Colin, and Violet on this journey to the truth was fun and hectic and thrilling!

However, I have a confession to make. I was hurrying through this novel not because of the murder mystery, or Vi, or the ghosts, but for Colin. Well, Colin and Violet, and their blossoming relationship. I couldn't help it! Right from the beginning, I saw their relationship as adorable and, I don't know, hot. They've been together since they were kids, going through all of the awkward phases together, the boy-pulling-girl's-pigtail syndrome phase most especially, with all these shared memories between them, and then here they are, old enough to embark on something scary and thrilling and wonderful, and I just couldn't contain my excitement. Or my growing agitation as their progress into that stage was hampered at first, then slow. But, in the end, I can't really complain as it all worked out in a way that made my heart stutter and sigh.

I don't think this is going to evolve into a series, and, truth be told, it works best as a standalone anyway. Still, I'm ready for whatever Harvey has cooked up for us readers in the future. Did I forget to mention that I have yet to finish her ongoing Drake Chronicles series? So you can expect more Alyxandra Harvey-related reviews to come!


My stomach gave a funny little hitch. I slipped my hand into Colin's. He didn't grimace at me like he sometimes did; he just squeezed back. (5)

And then suddenly I was free, sailing backward without warning.
"Get off her!"
I hit the trunks, bruising my shoulder. A hat box fell to the ground. I pushed my hair out of my eyes just in time to see Colin rearing back to punch the ringleader. (17)

"He's not good enough for you."
"What?" I stared at him incredulously. "I'd say you have that backward. He's from a good family. I'm not." His fingers slid away from mine. A swallow darted between us. "So if you'll excuse me, I have to go convince his mother that I'm not a desperate fortune hunter with a liar for a mother and a disgusting talent for drugging old ladies."
I frowned. "What do you mean, no? What's the matter with you?"
He just stepped closer to me, right on my shadow, which had been the only thing between us. His eyes were angry and conflicted but his hands were gentle on my face, wrapping around the back of my neck. He pulled slightly and I stumbled forward... (86)


Liz. R said...

I've been wanting to read this for ages! I'm really glad you enjoyed it - and you picked out the best parts from the book, they've made me want to read it even more! I'm intrigued by the Violet/Colin relationship now - thanks for the great review!

A. Knight said...

It has such a gorgeous cover that I was drawn to it like bees to honey. And I didn't regret it, that's for sure. I didn't expect to like Vi and Colin together as much as I did, but they had such a cute relationship when they were younger and then when it flourished into so much more, I couldn't get through the book fast enough!

Logan E. Turner said...

I'm reading this one right now! I'm so excited that Colin & Violet are going to be like Anne and Gilbert Blythe! *swoon*

A. Knight said...

Major SWOON.