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Haunting Violet

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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?

342 pages, Hardcover

First published May 24, 2011

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About the author

Alyxandra Harvey

48 books3,119 followers

Alyxandra Harvey is the author of The Cinderella Society, The Dainty Devils, The Drake Chronicles, The Witches of London, Haunting Violet and more!
She likes chai lattes, tattoos, and books.
Sometimes fueled by literary rage.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 724 reviews
Profile Image for Briar's Reviews.
1,901 reviews517 followers
August 27, 2019
I originally bought Haunting Violet when it first came out (way back in 2011... my gosh, it has been a long time). It ended up on my shelf and floated around for years, and I mean YEARS. I've been staring at this book for most of 2019 knowing full well I wanted to read it. Buuuuut... I know Alyxandra Harvey is one of my favourite authors, so I figured I'd have to find a time to sit down and binge read the whole darn book. And I did!

I finally picked this book up, knowing full well I'd love it. I have a special place in my heart for Alyxandra Harvey. Her Drake chronicles/series was one of the original series that got me into my crazy reading habit. I fell in love with Quinn and Solange and all of their wacky family and friends. So, it's only fitting that I continue to fall in love with Alyxandra's books (they are just a little harder to come across now - there's too many books to read). It's especially harder since the book store that introduced me to her (and pimped her books out BIG TIME) went out of business around 2012. So, there's that.

Anywho - Haunting Violet. This book is a lovely stand alone novel that really should be a series. Violet lives in the past (I want to say Renaissance-esque era. Back when ladies wore corsets, gloves and had to be married off) and with a Mother who fakes seances. Then, suddenly, one day Violet starts seeing ghosts! A lovely, young, ghost lady appears out of nowhere and leads Violet to become a sleuth. Someone has murdered this girl, and Violet will find out too! Along the way we meet her friend Elizabeth, her love interest Collin, her other love interest Xavier, the dead girl's living twin and many other suspicious characters. Xavier chases after Violet's hand in marriage, Collin also tries to woo her despite not being from an esteemed family and it's your typical 2011/2012 young adult novel (in my humble opinion).

Side note: Violet's mother is a complete psychopath. I've seen other reviewers relate her to Mother Gothel and OMG yes. She's absolutely evil and nuts. I absolutely hate books with mothers like that, but I'm sure women like that exist. She infuriated me! Yet there's no epic payoff for her (there kind of is, but not enough if you ask me!).

These sort of books are my FAVOURITES. There's lots of tropes - love triangle, best friend turned romance, murder mystery, and exciting descriptions of locations and outfits. The book was a little predictable, but I also read WAY to many murder mysteries and young adult novels for my own good.

The writing style is what kept me hooked. Alyxandra's writing style is fast paced, descriptive and enchanting. I felt myself getting lost and addicted to her words, and I hardly noticed the time flying by. Suddenly a 300+ page book was done! It was slightly annoying since I do love a good Alyxandra Harvey book.

My biggest negative for this book is how it was presented on the web. Everywhere says this book is apart of a series, but I have never seen a sequel. I'm assuming it has something to do with the publishers, which is a real shame. I'd love to see this book turn into a series because it was enchanting! I'd like to see more crazy heists and murder mysteries set in the past. Collin and Violet are also too darn cute to not continue!

Overall, this is another lovely YA to add to your shelf. Necromancy, ghosts, paranormal, romance and drama flood the pages (pun intended... there's a drowning in the book, FYI). The book is light, easy to read, fast paced and marvelous! It's also a PG rated book, so if you're looking for a good novel to start your pre-teens or teens in, this book could be it!

Five out of five stars! Give me more Alyxandra Harvey STAT!
Profile Image for Tomoe Hotaru.
252 reviews852 followers
April 26, 2012
There is this thick culture in my home country that places deep respect and almost blind obedience upon members of family - especially one's parents.

I lived next door to a girl and her younger brother. Every day, she was made to do all the household chores, help her mother with the cooking and tend to their little shop. One breath out of line and she was beaten by her father. Her younger brother, on the other hand, spent his days running about God knows where from morning 'til night, never made to do a single task.
They pressured her to do well in every. single. thing. One poor grade and yes, they'd beat her. Her younger brother skipped almost every single class without repercussion.
And above everything, never once have I seen or heard of her parents showing her any appreciation.

If I had parents like that, I would've hated them. I certainly wouldn't have respected them half as much as society demanded. But if I somehow manage to bring the subject up with my neighbour, her reply is simple. "No matter what, they're still my parents."

Well yes. But that blood connection doesn't mean you're obligated to lay your head down under their filthy boots and still love them when they step all over you. The thought of this just. makes. me.

Violet Willoughby strongly reminds me of these girls unfortunate enough to be born from a piss-poor excuse of a mother. More specifically, of the girls who bends down to the whim of a blatantly cruel and manipulative woman simply because she happens to be her mother.

Her mother, Celeste, is a supposed widow, who earns her living and tries to claw her way into society through her (fraudulent) occupation as a Spiritualist. She "speaks to the departed loved ones" of her clients in exchange for money or gifts, and more importantly, reputation.

On the other hand good, honest Violet hates the way they trick these mourning people out of their coin. In fact, she doesn't even believe in spirits. That is, until she finds herself haunted by the ghost of Rowena, whose spirit won't rest until her murderer is uncovered.

Violet is an okay character for me, albeit a little too contrary at times. She's not the swooning type (as she would tell you a good many times herself!) yet on the other hand she'd be giggling at bare masculine chests and jumping at the thought of a proposal.
She wasn't the hopeless type of female leads you mostly find in YA nowadays, but she did still need a male love interest to carry her when her legs are too weak, or to save her from her mother's beatings, or even to tell her she needs to be careful.

But hey. What's a girl without her gooey, weak moments? Right?

To be fair though, she didn't need anyone to solve the mystery for her. She certainly didn't need the love interest to unveil the murderer in front of everyone.

And yet she still strikes me as bland. The only thing that really struck me was ... she's a pretty little doe, ain't she?
And she was also -- for a while -- besotted with the idea of marrying a man for the sake of wealth and reputation. Bad motherly influences here, but I did expect Violet to have her own views on the idea of marrying for money (since she was against the idea of faking seances!)
Her resolve to not marry Xavier the rich son-of-a-merchant (trader, I should say) wasn't even her own resolve at all! I think I would have respected her more if she had refused him flat out from the beginning.

But what grated me the most about Violet was her ... obedience? to her mother. She turned simply into a demure little girl when it came to Celeste. Even when she took the beatings. Not even a glare of anger. Not a flash of resentment. I felt no emotion from her in this aspect, so I really don't know what she even feels for her mother.
In the end, it was not even her who left her mother - it was more her mother who explicitly told her she was no longer welcome. Again, I would have respected Violet more if she stood up to her mother from the beginning. Plotting to run away is not enough considering when all's said and done, it was her mother who got rid of her.

What's a YA novel without a love interest, right?

What can I say about Colin? Well to the overall plot progression and everything, I must say he didn't really have a role. It seemed like he was there simply to provide a male lead for Violet.

That's not to say I hated him, though. Growing up with Violet, a lot of the chemistry that developed between them must've happened off-screen, which is why we don't have a full take on the budding romance. What I've gathered is he acts like a brother-turned-protector to Violet, often fighting back the bullies for her, generally worried when something nasty happens to her. Again, since a lot of their relationship happened before the novel took place, we know very little of why he should feel that way.

Although Violet being extremely pretty probably plays a part.

I won't say much more about Colin. He, like the rest of the other characters, didn't stand out very much to me.

She's a horrible mother. A selfish, manipulative, absolutely revolting woman.

For some reason this is how I picture her

And yet she may be the most developed character in this novel. We see her as a fraud, as someone who's simply trying to make end's meet. After all, who can blame a lady for wanting a bit of fame? For wanting to climb up from the gutters?

Then we see her slowly descend into her true self.

She was described as amazingly beautiful two or three times, but unlike Violet, her beauty was not the most flashing aspect of her character. She reminded me of an evil step-mother, only in a vaguely physically tormenting way (you know I'm not talking about the beatings) and more at a covert, emotional/psychological level. She has issues from her past, which shaped her to what she became now. I'm not saying it justifies who she is, it simply explains her behaviour.

The overall plot I had no problem with. It was an easy, smooth read. I admit I was guessing a few of the wrong villains, but to me the true identity of the man Violet suspected was very obvious, making it a somewhat predictable read.

But of course I do have my quarrels.

1) Why oh why did Rowena take so long in revealing who her murderer was? If she could do all that fanciful stuff (pulling Violet into her memories), then why couldn't she just pull Violet to the night of her murder?? Saves us a lot of trouble.

2) Violet & Elizabeth (& Colin?)'s suspicion of Mr. Travis seemed contrived to me. It was clear he meant no harm. I don't know, maybe it's just me. But it did seem an obvious ploy to throw the readers off or something, which didn't work.

Overall, an okay read for me. At least I didn't come across most of the cliches found in YA, and the romance was kept to a just bearable minimum. The narrative wasn't bad, either; an even mix of internal thoughts that blend coherently with her actions.

Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
June 7, 2011
Already a huge fan of Alyxandra Harvey's Drake Chronicles, I was eager to see how she tackles something totally different. I'm happy to say that she doesn't disappoint.
Haunting Violet was everything I was hoping for and more.

I loved this book! Yes, it's a historical, which most of you know I don't particular like, but the way Harvey writes feels like I've been swept off my feet and transported. I love how vivid her setting is. It's rich and lavish, right down to the fashion and the food, the elegant surroundings of the land and the houses. Everything felt like I was right in the middle of it, soaking it all in.

All these characters are wonderful. Violet is such a delightful protag. She's torn between pretending to be someone else and who she really is, not to mention how she deals with her new found abilities. But through it all she remains loyal and humble but still maintains that underlined frisk that I love in a MC.
I adore Colin. Adore! He's protective, sweet, honest and dependable. I've always been a sucker for gradual-romance and this one seemed even sweeter since Colin and Violet grew up together. They know and understand each other and what's at stake in a way no one else ever will. They were so adorable.

The story concept was really fun in that whodunit mystery but with some ghostly help. There were a few scenes that were pretty shutter-worthy. Harvey really knows how to add just enough supernatural to the plot but not overwhelming it at the same time. I was completely absorbed.

Bottom line, I really enjoyed myself with this book. It's entertaining and creepy and sharp. Alyxandra Harvey proves that she's not just Vampires and even though I adore the funny and the action her other series provides it's really great to escape to an awesome stand alone, in Haunting Violet.
Her books will forever be an instant must-have in my eyes!
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,284 reviews460 followers
October 22, 2017
Want to see more from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

For as long as Violet can remember, her mother has been pretending to be a spiritual medium. She enlisted the help of Violet at a very young age to help fake the seances she performs for her clients. While attending a spiritual party of a wealthy lord, Violet begins to see ghosts. The ghost of a young girl who was murdered on the property a year earlier appears and Violet decides that she is going to help discover who murdered her.

Violet was a bit bland and boring, though at times she was quite fiesty. I enjoyed Colin and how protective he was of Violet. Violet's mother just infuriated me at all times, what a terrible woman. The plot was interesting enough and I was interested on finding out who the murderer was but I wasn't overly invested in the story.

Overall, this was an average book. It wasn't anything that blew me away, but it was entertaining at the time of reading it
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,982 followers
October 28, 2011
I've had great luck with my Halloween picks this year. This book was a great little find. I haven't read this author's Drake Chronicles series yet, but I'm now interested in checking it out after reading Haunting Violet.

Normally I don't like to write summaries for book reviews, but since the actual summary doesn't really clue you in to what's going on, I'm going to break it down for you.

1. It's a historical. I was surprised, but in a good way. The setting was perfect for adding to the creepy vibe. There aren't too many extra details to get bogged down with, so even if you don't like historicals, just focus on this book being a ghost story first and foremost and you should get into this one, no problem.

2. The main character has a whacked-out mom who drags her around to help with the "fake" seances that they're hired to perform. I enjoyed seeing the amount of effort they put into making the fake seem real.

3. Guess what? The daughter actually has a real ability to see ghosts, throwing a bit of actual supernatural into the sham seances. Needless to say, real ghosts cause a lot more trouble than fake smoke and mirrors do.

4. A dead girl shows up, begging Violet to solve her murder. Some parts of the mystery were easy to solve, but this time, I was clueless as to who the actual murderer was, even though I was doing the *smack forehead* afterward because I should have figured it out. Props to the author for sticking it to me at least a little bit.

5. Colin was charming. That is all. Irish brogue for the win.
Profile Image for MaryannC Victorian Dreamer.
495 reviews108 followers
September 4, 2019
I rather enjoyed this charming read. Once again I was meant to peruse this and get to it in a day or two but once I read the opening pages I couldn't stop reading it.
Violet Willoughby is a young woman going along for the ride with her mother's plans of being a renowned "Spiritualist" to the gentry of London. Despite the fact that Violet doesn't believe in ghosts or cares to be part of her mother's convoluted schemes, she goes along with it because the money her mother pockets will allow them to eat and clothe themselves in more fashionable attire, thus making them more welcome among the wealthy and easier to swindle. The problem for Violet is that even though she doesn't care to believe in ghosts, the ghosts are coming to her and one in particular reveals itself as a murdered young woman bent on popping up at the most inopportune time. Along with her childhood friend Colin, Violet begins to realize she has "the gift" her mother so desperately wants for herself. A nicely atmospheric story set in the 1800's.
Profile Image for Alysa H..
1,352 reviews63 followers
December 7, 2017
Entertaining enough, but quite silly and unremittingly shallow. Random pratfalls, for example, do not equal character depth. And for a book that seems to revel in anachronistic language and behaviors on the part of its teenage females, the author sure is fond of the word "missish" -- a word which I find supremely sexist. It's used disparagingly at least 4 times.
Profile Image for Kelly.
616 reviews150 followers
May 6, 2012
(3.5 stars) It’s Victorian England, and Spiritualism is all the rage. Violet Willoughby’s mother Celeste is a phony medium, using parlor tricks to scam her way up the social ladder. Now, the Willoughbys have been invited to the palatial estate of Rosefield for a grand house party. On this trip, Violet learns something shocking: she is a medium. A real one. And the ghost of a girl from the next estate over, who drowned mysteriously the previous year, is haunting Violet and demanding she solve her murder.

Haunting Violet is both a spooky mystery and a coming-of-age tale for Violet. She is constrained both by her cruel mother and by the strict rules of Victorian society, where even if you save the day, you’d better not be inappropriately dressed while doing it. Violet’s development is compelling as she tries to determine who she wants to be and what kind of life she will live, in a time when young women were not supposed to decide these things for themselves.

There’s a romantic element, too. Violet’s mother is pushing her to marry the wealthy but boring Xavier, but Violet is falling for her childhood friend, Colin, an Irish-born orphan. The choice between Mr. Wrong-but-rich and Mr. Right-but-poor is not new, really, but it works — and Colin makes a great match for Violet. They’ve got loads of chemistry, and he always has her back and wants her to be happy.

Alyxandra Harvey creates a cast of characters who come alive on the page. In addition to Violet and Colin, some good examples are Celeste, who’s fascinating to read about even though she’s a horrible person; Violet’s friend Elizabeth, who’s simply fun; and the ghost characters, who provide many moments of warmth and comic relief in addition to chills. Seriously, I love the ghosts. The lady with the blackberries. The pirate, with his comment about his own death. Lord Marshall’s wife! The schnauzer!

I do wish Violet had solved the murder before I did. The mystery in Haunting Violet bears a resemblance to a very famous story, and once I saw that story’s ghost beneath the surface of this one — pardon the pun — I knew who had done it, and I was right. But even setting that aside, there are a couple of major clues that readers will probably catch but that Violet misses. It’s actually another character who correctly interprets the most significant clue. It would have been much more satisfying if Violet had been the one to figure this out.

These issues with the mystery brought Haunting Violet down a bit in my eyes, as did a distracting error that was repeated several times: “passed” used in place of “past.” On the whole, though, I found it charming, and I enjoyed reading it. Sometimes you just need some goosebumps and a sweet love story on a dark and stormy night.

written for www.fantasyliterature.com
Profile Image for Rebecca.
584 reviews148 followers
March 1, 2011
Sixteen-year-old Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in the supernatural after being forced to assist her mother, a fradulent medium, since she was a little girl. Violet resents her mother for forcing her to participate in tricking many grieving people out of their money. Invited to the estate of Lord Jasper, a wealthy and prominent Spiritualist, Violet is angry that she must once again help perpetuate her mother's fraud. At the same time, Violet's mother is trying to push her into marriage with a wealthy young man, Xavier, who has been courting Violet. Xavier is kind and handsome, and marriage to him would mean she could finally escape her mother, but she can't seem to feel the same way about him that she does about Colin, the boy she grew up with after her mother took him in to work as her assistant.

Soon after arriving at Lord Jasper's estate, however, Violet learns that her romantic troubles are not her biggest problem. While her mother may be a fraud, ghosts are real - and Violet can suddenly see them. One ghost in particular will not leave her alone - the ghost of Rowena, a young girl Violet's age who died last year in what was apparently an accidental drowning. Rowena was actually murdered, and she will not rest until her murderer is brought to justice. Despite the danger, Violet is determined to solve the mystery so Rowena can finally rest in peace.

Haunting Violet is an enjoyable historical fantasy full of mystery and romance. Though it was rather predictable which of her two love interests Violet would choose, I enjoyed the mystery which kept me guessing until the end. At times the narration and dialogue did seem rather modern for a book set in 1872, but since I don't think it was supposed to be perfectly historically accurate it didn't bother me too much. Overall it was a fun read and I really liked that it was a standalone novel with a satisfying conclusion, which is something I'd like to see more of in young adult fiction, since these days it seems like almost every book is either part of a series or setting up for the possibility of one.
Profile Image for Delilah V.
1 review1 follower
February 23, 2012
Review for Haunting Violet By Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey is one of my all time favorite books! I loved it! It had such descriptive language in it at some parts you thought you were actually in the story. It on the edge of your seat wondering what would happen next. Haunting Violet pleasantly surprised me by being so good because I usually do not read thrilling books like this but I would recommend this book to anyone.

The book Haunting Violet takes place in the 1800's and the main characher is Violet. Violet doesn't believe in ghosts until they start 'visiting' her. She starts getting visits very often from a ghost named Rowena. Rowena was murdered at the estate Violet was staying in. Violet thinks that she is Rowenas only hope of ever catching the murdered and exposing him for who he really is.

I think a strenght is at the end the book takes a really unexpected twist on who you think murdered Rowena because the whole time the author is hinting at you it is one person but it turns out to be the exact opposite! What I thought was a weakness about the book was in the beggining you think it takes place in our time period but then about one third in you find out it takes place in the 1800's! That made the book really confusing in the beggining.

I loved how the ending is so descriptive and fantastic you can't help reading all through the day! It is filled with surprises and answers to the questions you've had the whole time! For example when you find out Mr. Travis was secretly Rowenas lover you are just sitting there with your mouth open! Over all I found nothing that I disliked about this book! I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read that keeps you on the edge of your seat! It is a great read for young adults all the way up to elderly! I rate this book 4.9 out of 5 stars. Read away!

February 23nd, 2012
Review by Delilah V.
Profile Image for Angelc.
422 reviews51 followers
June 28, 2011
4.5 Stars

This is a great YA historical with a spooky, supernatural element, not to mention a sweet romance!

I've always been fascinated by the seances in the Victorian era, including all the tricks that mediums and con artists used to make people think they were communicating with ghosts. The book really portrays Violet's mother as taking advantage of people at their worst. We get to see all of the ways she tricked them in detail.

Sometimes, I wanted Violet's mother to be just little more of a sympathetic character, but she really turns out to be just all bad.

One of my favorite characters was Violet's little ghost dog, Mr. Rochester. He was just so cute, and I think he made Violet feel like she wasn't so alone among all the ghosts with her new found talent. And also she was able to feel a little less scared of what was happening.

Violet's long time friend, Colin, was flat-out adorable. He was always there for Violet and I can't think of a single time that he let her down.

This book is a good old fashioned gothic spook fest with sweet characters and a fast paced story. I'm really hoping to see more of Violet and Colin (and Mr. Rochester) in future books!!

ARC sent in exchange for honest review

reviewed for http://inthehammockblog.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Josie.
1,485 reviews31 followers
June 28, 2012
Interesting concept, but not particularly well executed. A murder mystery needs to be tightly plotted, and this one wasn't. The pace dragged, and the ghost of the murdered girl seemed remarkably coy in revealing who her murderer was. (Seriously, just TELL VIOLET WHO IT WAS.)

Also -- and this is one of my biggest pet peeves -- even though this was set in the Victorian era, none of the characters acted or sounded like they were from that period. Violet, the main character, wouldn't shut up about her corset ("my heart hammered under my corset" ... "my corset bones poked me in the ribs" ... "my corset felt suddenly too tight") to the point where I wondered if she'd ever even worn one before. Perhaps it was supposed to remind the reader that she's in period costume omg! But that's exactly what it suggested -- a costume, rather than an everyday item of clothing for her. And her speech and opinions were so modern that if she'd pulled an iPhone out of her reticule I wouldn't have been surprised.
Profile Image for Ruby.
299 reviews57 followers
February 1, 2011
This review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.

I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the Drake Chronicles. It's a period piece, which tends to bring out the nitpicker in me. I'm one of those people who is irritated when an author gets titles wrong. It's not that I consider myself a history buff--quite the opposite, in fact--but that's my point, really. If an ignoramus like me knows that the Earl of Bladiblah generally has several lesser titles in addition to the one he's known by, so should others. Here's your mini-lesson for the day: In addition to being the Earl of Bladiblah, Lord Bladiblah is also Viscount Hmmuna and Baron Xyz. If the earl is lucky enough to have a son (it's a joke, you guys), that son gets to use his father's next highest title as a courtesy. So, the Earl of Bladiblah's son would be known as the Viscount Hmmuna. And the earl's brother would be known as The Honorable Mr. Adam Smith, not Sir Smith. There have practically been treatises written about correct forms of address for the peerage. Online treatises. My point is: the knowledge is easy to come by. If an author doesn't know about it, then by gad, the editor should. I'm just saying.
Though this irritates me, it's not the only basis on which I judge a book. It's true that historical inaccuracies can make it or break it--that's the danger of writing a historical novel. I've read far too many books that are simply modern stories in Regency clothing. I like it when the characters of historical novels act in accordance to the mores of their time. Spunky heroines who gad about town without chaperons or who stride about spouting post-feminist theories don't generally work for me. I don't say it can't be done, but for my coin historical heroines should liberal minded for their own time, not ours.
Alyx avoids this trap by creating a heroine who is an outsider. Though she moves among the elite members of society (the oft mentioned peerage), she isn't one of them. She's illegitimate and she knows it. She also knows that her mother--far from being a respectable widow--was once a maid in a wealthy household. Violet is only masquerading as a lady, and therefore her unconventional behavior makes sense.
Also, I wish I knew more about Victorian times, because I kept wondering about how easily Violet and her mother were able to become part of high class society. Certainly it was an age of great upheaval. The members of the peerage grew increasingly poor as the merchant and industrial classes grew wealthy. But it was also the age named for Queen Victoria--a monarch who was famous for rigidity. I expected Violet's illegitimacy to have a greater impact than her mother's fraud as a spiritualist.
I liked Violet, but I didn't love her. Her mother, sadly, doesn't have any depth. She's bad through and through. I think this novel suffers from too many characters. There's Lord Jasper, Elizabeth, Marjorie, Xavier, Tabitha, Peter, Caroline, Frederick...I was never really clear on who, exactly, was at the house party. It became a mass of faceless people, which doesn't work for what is, essentially, a mystery novel. Also, because there are no characters that we really get to know very well, character development takes a backseat to the love story and the plot. I've admitted (repeatedly), that I like my fiction sprinkled with romance. What I haven't said (and probably should) is that character development is a major necessary for me, too. If a book doesn't have that, it won't work for me. And this story doesn't have it. Violet doesn't have to make any choices; she never takes control of her life. All the changes that lead to her happy ending are the result of other people's actions and/or decisions. Especially the change that has the greatest effect on her life.
As I closed the back cover of Haunting Violet, I was left with a sense of dissatisfaction. Not because there isn't a happy ending--there is--but because I wanted more from Violet's story. I'm sorry to have not enjoyed this book, as I've enjoyed Alyx's other work. I'll still be looking out for the rest of the Drake Chronicles.
Profile Image for Donna.
1,193 reviews
July 1, 2011
I find the Spiritualist movement absolutely fascinating simply because so many people were hoodwinked so rampantly, and publicly, for so many years and it took a decent amount of time for them to catch on. This higher level of society, too hoity toity for their own good, bamboozled into thinking that women with wooden planks bound to their knees were their dead relatives come back to contact them. So smart they were.

What I loved most about HAUNTING VIOLET was that it didn't take itself too seriously, just like Violet didn't take herself too seriously. Here she was, having grown up in a world of trickery and lies, and she was nominally undaunted by it. She didn't get suckered into the life like her mother did. She held her own ground and kept being her own person. The book overall was a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of "street people" working their way into the first class cabins, the games they played and how duped they made the people above them who thought they were just that, above it all.

Violet is a strong, well-intentioned character that doesn't take any shit, not from ghosts or Colin or her "better off" suitor. Her mother she puts up with a little more but, well, I can relate with her there. The breaking point comes a little later when it comes to the parental figures. But she does reach it, just not in the way you might think. Or someone as strong as Violet, you'd think her set on one path but she really ends up wandering down another. It's shocking and at the same time relatively expected, but she doesn't curl in on herself. Violet stands tall, regardless of what she faces.

The main plot, Violet solving the murder mystery of the ghost's death, is compelling and at times frightening. The ghost shows up at the most inopportune times and does things to Violet that not only frighten her but aggravate her as well. It doesn't take Violet long to desensitize to the ghost and start throwing the sass right back. How else is she supposed to solve the murder when the victim won't even cooperate?

Violet just has so much sass and spice about her, it's hard not to like her. Not that I went in going "I'm not going to like Violet." She's just such a dynamic, resilient character that you can't help but root for her. Even when it comes to Colin, things aren't simple with her and she lets it be known that she's pulled in multiple directions about it. Subtlety isn't really her thing, as evidenced a few times throughout the book. And while she gets embarrassed at first, she gets over it. Quickly. You can't help but love someone that springs back to their feet as often as Violet does.

The voice is fantastic. The second I started reading HAUNTING VIOLET the voice had me. It has just enough pomp about it to showcase the Victorian times but it's not so convoluted that that's all it becomes. It sounds just like what a "lower class" person pretending to be an upperclass one would sound like. It's compelling and riveting and it had me turning the pages. Seriously, I zoomed through this one in about a day. I didn't want to put it down.

Harvey's ability to capture the time yet keeping it relevant and interesting is great. Not only are you sucked into the plot of trying to find this killer hiding in plain sight but you're immersed in this beautiful world that's nothing but lies. You can't help but feel guilty for Violet and want to hit her mother with a stage coach (did they have stage coaches in England or just carriages?). Violet's mother is the type of pseudo-villain that you just love to hate. She's such a rich character that her nastiness just oozes off of her and you try to keep away lest you get some on you but you stay close enough so that you can get all her dirt.

Overall, HAUNTING VIOLET is a fantastic historical fiction steeped in accuracies and riddled with compelling characters that'll drive you through straight until the end. You'll get sucked in in no time and as you read, you'll find yourself trying to work out who dunnit, competing with Violet to see who can come to the right conclusion first. You don't want to miss this one.
Profile Image for Kristi.
848 reviews202 followers
June 18, 2011
The Faery’s View

Haunting Violet is such an apropos name for Alyxandra Harvey’s break –away from The Drake Chronicles! It is full of ghosts, thrills, romance but it’s also a murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end. The most surprising aspect of Haunting Violet is that it is not only a paranormal romance but it is also, in my opinion, a very accurate historical paranormal romance set in the year of 1872.

Violet, the illegitimate daughter of a charlatan Spiritualist, has known very little love from her mother and along with Colin, an Irish orphan her mother allowed to live with them purely for the labor he provides, they all play a part in her mother’s scheming séances of those that are grieving and wanting to get in touch with those that have passed on. Violet and Colin have always looked out for each other and as they’ve gotten older Violet has started having different ‘feelings’ for Colin. Like the way her heart flutters when his hair falls over his brow or when she notices the muscles he’s developed as he’s gotten older. Colin has made living with her mother tolerable. Over the years her mother has made quite the name for herself in the Spiritualist circles because of her ‘successful’ yet deceitful séances. When an invitation arrives to visit the wealthy Lord Jasper, a known Spiritualist, at his country estate, she sees this as an opportunity that not only furthers her success but also to marry off Violet to the wealthiest bidder.

Upon arrival at Lord Jasper’s exquisite estate, Violet is presented as a lady and the gentlemen are taken in by her beauty and sweet nature. The other young ladies are immediately jealous and catty-particularly a beautiful girl named Tabitha. One girl, Elizabeth, quickly becomes a fast friend and makes Violet feel terrible about lying to her about who she really is. One thing that is extremely pleasant from Violets normal life: she has never seen so much food before, slept in a bed that was so soft nor has she ever had so much free time to read. The free time doesn’t last long though, eventually Violet starts to actually see a ghost, which is impossible because Violet doesn’t believe in ghosts! Violet can’t ignore it though; the ghost is identical to Tabitha, if fact it’s her identical twin that drowned a year ago despite the fact that she was an excellent swimmer. Foul play is afoot and it’s up to Violet, Colin and Elizabeth to find out before the murder kills Violet next.

Haunting Violet surprised me; I must confess that I’m not really big on ‘ghost’ books! Alyxandra Harvey did such an excellent job in her portrayal of the times that I almost felt as if I were transported to the late 1800’s. The descriptive was such that it was interesting and at times, humorous-I was never bored, in fact, I was fascinated. Violets character was so very likable! She is courageous, determined to do what’s right and cares deeply for others. The plot was amazing and unlike anything I’ve read before, it held so many elements while holding true to story. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a great ghost story but also to those who enjoy romance, intrigue and mystery.
Profile Image for Emma .
2,506 reviews353 followers
June 10, 2011
Brilliant detail on spiritualism. Fab protagonist and brilliant romance *swoon.

I am a huge fan of Alyxandra Harvey's vampire series The Drake Chronicles, so I was very excited to read anything else by her, more so after reading the synopsis. I have to say that Haunting Violet has tipped the scales sending me into super fan girl mode. The book is superbly well written with dramatic atmospheric tension from the beginning.

I do not want to go into too much detail about the plot as you really NEED to read it for yourself. What I will say is that the story is heart pounding, compelling and utterly fascinating.

Written in first person narrative from Violet's perspective. The illegitimate daughter of a cruel, selfish woman; Violet is forced to help her mother deceive people while her mother pretends to be psychic, charging for her elaborate duplicity. Violet, in complete contrast to her mother, not only does she really communicate with spirits, she is caring, open and honest. The deceit she has to participate in with her mother, weighs heavy on her conscious. She is a very relateable character with her love of reading and escaping from the turmoil of her life into a book.

The setting of Victorian London is richly descriptive with beautiful use of simile and metaphor, creating a very realistic world. The historical details and portrayal of the divide in society added to the world building. The story had an air of Jane Austen in the narrative with the need to marry well, alongside the details of the parties on the country estate and the divide in classes. All extremely well portrayed. The feeling of women having no control over their own future without independent wealth really shone through. However, I did wonder how Violet was able to read given her standing in society. It may have been explained and I was too busy delving into the story to appreciate the details.

At one point I was a little worried that there was going to be a love triangle - thank goodness this didn't happen as I think it would have really spoilt the feeling of the romance within the book. I am not going to say anything about Colin apart from Wow and I want one. How Violet didn't have her eyes opened before I have no idea.

The portrayal of Spiritualism within the plot was superbly well researched and realistic. I give Alyxandra Harvey credit for the amount of research she put into it to make it so realistic. I would, if I had to be truly picky, like a little more detail about the circumstances that triggered Violet's abilities and more background detail about Lord Jasper's background especially regarding his knowledge of spiritualism.

I have surprised myself with being completely un-rambley today. I normally gush profusely when I like a book. This book contains the perfect balance of chilling ghostly tension, murder mystery and heart warming romance including some very hot kisses. So what are you waiting for- go read it [ : D ]
Profile Image for Eden.
239 reviews154 followers
May 1, 2011
The cover:

Lilies and water are a bit cliché, but both have to do with the book, so it can be forgiven. The colours are also an iffy choice: the shades of purple and white complement each other, but it ends up looking like a monotone cover. What bothers me most is the girl -- is she Violet or Rowena? I suppose it doesn't matter, but it seems like a weird positioning of the model for either of them.

The book:

Haunting Violet reminded me very much of Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn. And let me tell you upfront: no book should remind me of another. Originality isn't a virtue for nothing, peeps.

That being said, a good mystery is, well, good, and that part of the book is delved into thoroughly, complete with red herrings, life-or-death situations and allies-turned-enemies (and vice versa). But since the mystery intrigues so much, the paranormal aspect starts to feel like, couldn't this mystery have been found out about and solved without any ghosts? It feels as if there's no purpose to Violet's being able to see the spirits.

There's plenty of room for more intricate details of the Victorian era. I was actually looking forward to reading about the lifestyles in London, and the setting should've practically worked itself into the story, especially with the séances worked indoors and the rises and falls in social status. Somehow, though, Violet's world didn't get conveyed to me.

The romance is also a disappointment -- it's clear from the start that Violet's prestigious lover (who, admittedly, has the cool name "Xavier") only appreciates her looks, and the feelings between Violet and Colin don't seem founded. Violet herself is an in-between protag. She's moderately assertive, moderately likeable, moderately smart... the only exceptional thing about her is her beauty. Not cool.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,910 reviews852 followers
July 11, 2017
Set in Victorian England, Haunting Violet is fun, suspense, mystery, and romance all wrapped into one amazing book!

Violet's mother is a "Medium" who fools people out of money by holding phony seances and readings. Violet and her mother's assistant, Colin, must participate in the charades to earn a living.

They are invited out to the country estate of Lord Jasper and suddenly Violet starts seeing ghosts. Mostly the ghost of a girl who drowned the summer before at a neighboring estate. Her death was ruled an accident but how could this be when the girl bears bruise marks on her neck and wrists? All that were present the summer before are gathered again at Lord Jasper's. With Violet asking around and being the daughter of a "gifted Medium" someone starts to wonder if Violet knows more than she should, putting her in danger.

This was such a fun read! I loved the mystery that keeps you guessing to the end. I loved the swoon-worthy romance(where's my smelling salts?!)
and the setting was lovely. Who doesn'twant to be at a Victorian county estate solving a murder?

As a side note the book cover is so beautiful! Dreamy girl floating with lilies all around.

This is the first book I've read from Alyxandra Harvey. I will be reading the rest of her books now.

Profile Image for Charlie.
Author 4 books263 followers
June 20, 2011
4.5 Stars
Behind the Victorian curtain lurks a secret fascination with the after-life. The science and seance of mediums, performance, magic and paranormal are invited into the drawing rooms of elite society and pray on the grief stricken and bored. The Gothic darkness paired with the proper etiquette of the era makes for a scandalised mixture that is both historically interesting as well as mesmerizing. The macabre halls, hauntings and visual images are authentic and remind me of The Castle of Otranto by Horace Warpole, a classic example of gothic horror. Although Violet's character might feel modern at times, it is vital to remember that women of her situation were allowed greater freedoms. Her spirit is captivating and her mother a perfect Victorian villain set on exploiting whatever she can to survive in a world where men determine and control everything.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,680 followers
September 4, 2011
This is a fascinating look at the mania for Spiritualism and seances in Victorian England. Violet's mother is a medium, and a total fraud. All her life, Violet has assisted her mother in swindled the bereaved by faking ghostly messages and visitations. But what if a real ghost wanted to make contact?

This book was wonderfully done, with plenty of detail about fashions, etiquette, and Spiritualism (real and fake). Violet was a great character, and so was everyone else, from her theatrical mother to her friend Elizabeth, the sexy Colin, and even the ghosts. A wholly satisfying book, with a thrilling climax and a perfect conclusion.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews2,005 followers
June 30, 2011
Originally reviewed: http://thebooksmugglers.com/2011/06/b...


First Impressions:

Ana: I love ghost stories (even if I am scared of them) and I love novels set in Victorian times, so reading Haunting Violet was pretty much a given. The potential was even greater considering that the heroine and narrator is a con artist who finds herself having to solve a very real murder with the added bonus of a sweet romance between childhood friends. And you know… I really enjoyed reading Haunting Violet. It was a fun, quick read but unfortunately that’s all it was as it never truly reached its potential for greatness.

Thea: First off, I have to disagree with Ana because I don’t think Haunting Violet is necessarily a horror title. It’s much more of a ghostly mystery (just because ghosts are in a book doesn’t mean they are horror, just as vampires or werewolves in a book are the same). Ahem. That said, I enjoyed Haunting Violet much more than dear Ana – it’s a scam job, a mystery, a novel about abuse and relationships and love – and I truly enjoyed it from beginning to end.

On the Plot:

Ana: Violet Willoughby has spent most of her childhood assisting her mother in her fraudulent séances. She doesn’t believe in ghosts and she wishes they could have a different life, but the options for a young girl with no means and no connections are not exactly that great. Still, being somewhat famous in the spiritualist circles has proved to be a potential way out for Violet with the prospect of a good marriage just within her grasp.

But, when Violet and her mother are invited to attend a house party in the state of their patron, Sir Jasper, Violet starts to see real ghosts. One of the visiting ghosts is the spirit of a murdered girl looking to catch her killer and only Violet can help. With the help of her childhood friend Colin, she sets out to investigate the murder and unveil the mystery and catch the villain.

Haunting Violet starts off really well and I truly loved its first 100 pages or so. I liked the writing style and Violet’s voice. I enjoyed reading about Violet’s moral struggle with regards to their way of life and her inability to break free from her mother. This struggle was even more interesting if you consider the background of the Victorian society and the few options afforded to a penniless, bastard, young woman like Violet. I also enjoyed Violet’s relationship with Colin and how it started to evolve from friendship to love. In addition I have always been strangely attracted to stories about séances and the craze that seemed to have spread out throughout Europe at that time. Not to mention that the first scenes with the ghosts were truly terrifying.

But those were the first 100 pages. I think the best way to explain how I felt about the story is how it seemed it never truly evolved much beyond those first 100 pages of introduction. It is like the author only but scrapped the surface of all the different threads that were presented to start with. Starting with the Victorian setting – some things were only but glossed over like issues relating to gender and class and the dialogue sounded extremely modern. All things considered, this is really nothing more than a Wallpaper Historical (in terms of accuracy and setting). Now, I don’t really mind reading wallpaper historical novels all that much and have in fact, enjoyed several of them throughout the years but that is as long as everything else in the novel works well: characters, plot, writing. But as it turned out, everything in Haunting Violet was sort of wallpaper-y, with no real substance. The romance develops without any real depth, the characters are wishy-washy, the mystery was contrived and lacked believability in the way that it was investigated. And the whole thing surrounding Violet’s “powers” sounded quite hokey actually: like for example, all of a sudden there was talk about of “third eye” and Violet learnt how to open and close it in her FIRST attempt. Not to mention that every time the ghost of the murdered girl showed up and Violet asked a direct question about her murderer, something would happen to prevent the ghost from clearing that up – and that was extremely contrived.

What started like a good read with a lot of potential, soon turned out to be a frustrating read with underdeveloped threads and characters, shortcuts and inconsistencies. It was still somewhat fun to read but I could see the potential for a truly great story but alas, it never came to be.

Thea: From the other side of Smuggler Headquarters, I have to say that I patently disagree. With regards to the setting and historical accuracy, I do agree that dialogue had a tendency to slip into the more modern vernacular, the setting itself didn’t seem inaccurate to me (but then again, I’m the American of the duo so take that with a grain of salt). There wasn’t any modern sensibility ham-handedly forced into the novel, and for that I was extremely grateful. 1 But as to plotting, storytelling, thematics? Haunting Violet does a fantastic job of weaving a primary murder mystery alongside the story of a young girl’s struggle to find a place in the world, as she is a bastard daughter forced into a life of deception and thievery by a manipulative, abusive mother. The book does a fantastic job of examining the Victorian fascination with Spiritualism, and both the devotion and skepticism mediums invoked as seances became haute couture. I loved seeing the brashness of Violet’s mother, “Mrs. Willoghby,” as she ingratiates herself in high society with her many parlor tricks. I would argue that it is this storyline, Violet’s struggle to find a place in a society, acceptance from her mother, and her battle between her conscience and pragmatism, that is the core thematic arc of Haunting Violet.

Of course, at the heart of Haunting Violet, there is the mystery story as well. There’s the small matter that Violet – despite not believing in ghosts and being the daughter of London’s most famous spiritualist hack – starts to actually see ghosts. At Rosefield, Violet keeps seeing the ghost of a pale girl with bruises around her neck and wrist, dripping water and lillies. Soon, she learns the identity of her spectral visitor is Rowena Wentworth, a girl who mysteriously drowned the prior year. Rowena’s ghost will not rest until her twin sister is safe from the grasp of her murderer, and Violet, with the help of her friends Elizabeth and Colin, is the only one who can help discover the truth. Although the villain of the matter is fairly obvious (at least once all of the pieces are in place), I didn’t hold that against the book as the mystery unfolded in an organic, slightly spooky (in a good old fashioned ghost story) type of way.
Also, I loved that not everything is sunshine and ponies in this book – as befitting a penniless, bastard daughter of a defamed medium. The ultimate reveal comes to a violent crest of action and drama, and though our intrepid heroine saves the day, she doesn’t become the long-lost heiress to a fortune, nor does she marry her true love and live happily ever after. There’s happiness, to be sure (and I did enjoy the romance, but be warned it is a tertiary plot at best), but it isn’t a Disney-pretty-princess conclusion. And I liked that a lot.

On the Characters:
Ana: Character-wise, Haunting Violet presented the same sort of problem I had with the setting and the story. The seeds for good characters were ALL there. Violet was interesting to start with but….she was simply not developed enough as a character. I feel like I barely know her and what moved her which is basically how I feel about the majority of the characters (and there were SO many of them). I could just about see glimpses of awesomeness. Violet’s mother for example, had a really good shot at being to be a conflicted character and sympathetic villain but was nothing but one-dimensional villain. I know close to nothing about Colin beyond him being nice to Violet. There were again, glimpses of his past, but the conversations about it started but never ….ended.

Violet really seemed to struggle with her mother’s lack of ethic but did nothing about it. She wanted to investigate the mystery but her friends were the ones to really do the work – it is as though she was not an active character in her own story. Was that the point of her character arc?? I don’t think so – the denouement was resolved without Violet actively doing anything.

The fact that I actually liked them all (or perhaps I liked the idea of these characters) just adds to the overall frustration.

Thea: In contrast, I thought the characters were well-developed and rounded, especially where Violet, our protagonist, is concerned. Violet’s struggle is a tough one, as she must battle between her guilty conscience and the reality that this is the only way she and her mother can afford to feed themselves and make a living. As Colin puts it in the book, no one will hire Violet as a governess, because Ladies do not want overly-pretty governesses under their roofs. And, while Violet feels bad about drugging old ladies and deceiving her friends Lord Jasper and the young, spirited Elizabeth (daughter of an Earl), she has no qualms about pickpocketing, stealing silverware, or taking advantage of other snooty peers and high society types. The real struggle, however, is with Violet’s relationship with her beautiful, talented, yet petulant and cruel mother. Mrs. Willoghby is a manipulatress of the highest order, ruthlessly attempting to ingratiate herself in the peerage through her act as a medium and using her daughter as marriageable bait. Violet is constantly torn between embarrassment for her beautiful mother’s drinking and gleeful lack of propriety, and a desire to do right and earn her mother’s respect, if not affection. This struggle defines Violet’s character – embarrassed, ashamed, but responsible and reluctant to leave the mother she both reviles and admires. And that’s to say nothing of the ghost story arc that also shapes Violet over the course of the book – the discovery of her abilities, her fear and reluctance to acknowledge the truth, and the gradual acceptance to discover the villain responsible for a young girl’s death.

I enjoyed the other characters in the novel, too, especially Violet’s friend Elizabeth (who unfortunately does not get as much screen time) and the angry Tabitha, twin sister to the murdered Rowena. Of course, there’s also Colin, Violet’s childhood friend and love interest, who is handsome and conveniently there for Violet at every turn. Though I enjoyed the romance that blossoms between these two characters, I could have used a bit more backstory for Colin.

Final Thoughts, Observations & Rating:

Ana: Haunting Violet started off really well but turned out to be a frustrating read from the middle onwards. Still, I breezed through it fairly easily.

Thea: I really, truly liked this book – far more than I was expecting to like it. Haunting Violet is a tantalizing ghost story and murder mystery, fraught with seances and spirits, deception and secrets. But more than that, it is the story of a girl, coming into her own – a story that resonates in any time period, with any audience. Wholeheartedly recommended.

Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 4 books715 followers
June 24, 2011
Rowena Wentworth didn’t drown. She was murdered. And until her killer is revealed and admits their guilt, her spirit will not rest. And as a restless spirit she is angry and she fears for her sister Tabitha’s safety. She wants justice.

So when she sees someone who possesses the gift of sight, she is determined to make them solve her murder and she will not leave them alone until they do.

Violet Willoughby never wanted to follow in her mother Celeste’s footsteps – someone who claimed to have the ability to connect with the spirit world. But she knew her mother was a fraud, that she only sought the profit and attention that being a medium afforded. She was well aware of all her mother’s tricks. And she knew that spirits didn’t really exist.

But when her mother is invited to Rosefield by Lord Jasper to perform a séance, Violet quickly learns just how wrong she’s been. That there really are such things as spirits. That she can see them. And that if she doesn’t figure out who Rowena’s killer is, she might never be left alone.

Because a sixteen-year-old girl with psychic abilities is no match for an angry spirit dead-set on finding her executioner.


Haunting Violet is a bewitching and utterly delightful murder mystery with a twist set in the Victorian Era. It is a clever, fun and incredibly entertaining story that will keep readers guessing as to the identity of the killer and why they committed this crime.

The story has all the right elements to make up the perfect murder mystery. There are a number of characters who are behaving suspiciously, with hidden motives and many secrets they do not want revealed. There is a reluctant but capable “detective” and a charming and lovable “sidekick.” And it has an ideal setting – a large manor in the English countryside where the guilty party can easily remain hidden amongst the crowds.

But there is more to Haunting Violet than just a mystery. A whole new dimension is added to the story with the supernatural element and Violet’s ability to communicate with Rowena and other pleasant and not so pleasant spirits.

Violet and Elizabeth make a charming crime-solving duo. And with a love story developing in the background, Haunting Violet is an extremely engaging book.

Alyxandra Harvey’s ability to craft an enchanting story extends beyond the realm of the vampire in Haunting Violet, her novel that is part mystery, part ghost story and part love story. And she has created a group of characters that are incredibly entertaining and simply delightful to get to know.

Haunting Violet is not only a must read for fans of historical young adult fiction or supernatural murder mysteries, but for readers who enjoy a captivating, well-written story told from the main character’s perspective who is a very likable albeit reluctant heroine.

On a personal note:

When I read the description for Haunting Violet I had no idea that it took place in Victorian England. It was revealed rather quickly, however, when I opened the book and saw “1865” on the first page.

Victorian Era and historical fiction are not genres that I typically seek out or enjoy, but I’ve been a huge fan of the author’s Drake chronicles since the very first book. Plus, the idea of a ghostly murder mystery sounded like it would be quite entertaining. So, I decided to give it a chance.

And I’m so glad I did. I absolutely loved this book. Author Alyxandra Harvey’s writing was just as captivating as it was in her other books. Even more so. She really brought the story and characters to life and this story was much more richly developed than her vampire series, perhaps because it is a murder mystery.

Violet is utterly adorable. She is a slightly modern girl stuck in this stuffy and rather boring era of corsets and manners and etiquette. She has a mind of her own, and even though she appears somewhat to fit in with polite society she is much less constrained by their rules. How boring can she be when her mother is a fraudulent medium who has Violet participating in her deceptive schemes?

That Rowena Wentworth is one pain in the backside spirit. But I suppose I wouldn’t be too thrilled if I was murdered and no one knew it. It was fun to try and figure out “whodunit.” I took my guess pretty early on and was glad I was not wrong. But there were a number of suspicious characters that were great contenders to be the murderer, which kept me engrossed until the puzzle was solved.

Elizabeth is probably my favorite character. She is so nice and sweet and funny. And she is just so incredibly enthusiastic, quick to forgive, always ready to sneak a sweet treat and always manages to find a handsome boy to swoon over.

She and Violet made the perfect duo to try and solve the mystery behind Rowena’s death.

And then there is the love story. It is definitely worthy of a few sighs. It is ever so gently woven into the story, not taking anything away from the main focus which is the murder mystery. In fact, it adds to the story and makes Violet even more likable because of it.

I’m so happy that I did not judge this book by its genre. The story was incredibly engaging, Violet and Elizabeth were absolutely endearing, the supernatural element made the story both chilling and exciting and the love story was the icing on the cake.

I have no idea if this will be a series, but I would be completely thrilled to find out that there are more books planned for Violet, Elizabeth, Colin and Lord Jasper. With all the spirits wandering around Rosefield and all of London, there are bound to be a few more mysteries for Violet to solve.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,025 reviews91 followers
June 27, 2011
Ever since I saw the beautiful cover and the intriguing synopsis for Alyxandra Harvey’s Haunting Violet, I have been dying to read it, as if there is one thing I love its well-written historical fiction, especially if it involves something supernatural as well. Thankfully, this book perfectly fit the bill!

For Violet Willoughby, she is starting to become sick of the life she has been given. She cannot stand watching her mother constantly trick people into giving their money over for her so-called séances, which are the definition of fake, as well as dragging poor Violet and Colin, her mother’s young assistant, along for the ride. Better yet, she is also tired of her mother constantly telling her to marry a rich man when all Violet really wants to do is find someone she truly loves, someone who will let Violet be Violet. However, everything changes when Violet and her family are called to Lord Jasper’s house to help conduct séances for his guests’s entertainment. Soon enough Violet is involved in a murder mystery involving a snobby, elitist society girl and her dead twin sister who Violet is actually able to see. Will Violet be able to save the day before someone else is killed? Or will Violet soon become shark’s bait herself? And will Violet ever be able to get out of her mother’s plans for the future? Only time and more pages can tell in this mystery that will have nearly any reader thinking, “Who did it?”

From start to finish, I adored and rooted for several characters in Haunting Violet including Violet, of course. Strong yet sweet, Violet is a girl who has her head on her shoulders but yet isn’t afraid of letting her heart lead her way sometimes. It was always fun to see Violet interact with the different society people, and for Violet to allow for her talents in spiritualism grow also, as this portion especially allowed for Violet’s coming of age. I also adored the addition of Colin, Violet’s adorable Irish love interest, as well as Elizabeth, Violet’s hilarious and headstrong best friend.

The plot of Haunting Violet was also intricate. Not only because of the complex murder mystery subplot, but also because of the sprit powers Violet possessed. The murder mystery especially kept me turning the pages, and even though I had a basic gist of who the murder was for a portion of the book, I still managed to be a little surprised at how everything turned out in the end. I also loved Violet’s romance subplot. Not only because it developed in a realistic speed but also because it wasn’t a main focus of the story.

Lastly, Alyxandra’s writing was great in this. I had only read one book by Alyxandra prior to this (Hearts at Stake, the first in the Drake chronicles), and while I enjoyed her writing in that one, it took an even better turn in this book. I always felt like I was right there with the characters in the 1870s because of her descriptions, and her characters never failed to jump of the page and come to life. The only aspect I was a little shaky on was how I felt she modernized some of the dialogue between the characters at times.

Full of adventure, mystery, and romance, Haunting Violet is the perfect summer read. Best of all, it contains a solid, standalone ending, and what’s not to love about that?

Grade: B+

Haunting Violet is now out!
Profile Image for Kariny .
256 reviews18 followers
February 25, 2015
I think i'm becoming a HUMONGOUS fan of Alyxandra Harvey!

In this tale she enchants us with yet another story based in the victorian society. Violet and her mother are not very wealthy so they pretend to be mediums that can see the dead. Along with them is Collin, a boy her mother had taken care of since he's mother had died. This trio has conned their way into the elite society. Until one day. they receive an invitation to Lord Jasper's manner house. Violet and her mother put on a well elaborated show for their audience leaving no evidence of their fake act. That is until Violet really starts to see ghosts. This ghost is a young girl who had been murdered and she won't leave Violet alone until her murderer is exposed. But as Violet unravels the web of mysteries, her life keeps teetering on the very brink of danger...

I absolutely cannot say anything bad about this book. Violet is a really sweet but determined character. She hates lying to people but doesn't have any choice unless she wants to end up homeless. Loved the romance between her and Colin who stood by her and trusted her whenever she needed it the most. Violet's friend Elizabeth was awesome! She was full of life and really added loads of humor to this book. All the characters were so special and unique-especially the mother.

The events that led up to finding the murderer were so intriguing and i kept asking myself who the hell the killer was! I loved the stuff that happened to Violet as she discovered her powers under the ghost's stress, It outright creeped me out at times! All along she has to deal with the constraints of the victorian society, keep the eye of a potential husband, fight her feelings for Collin, deal with her crazy mother while finding a murderer!

Just a gripping, spine-tingling and haunting read from Alyxandra Harvey!One of the best standalones i've ever read!
Profile Image for Krystal.
821 reviews25 followers
January 23, 2011
Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. She's sat through one two many of her mothers fake séances to believe in the spirits. But, on a trip to great country house where her mother is trying to pull off her greatest con, ghosts all of the sudden start appearing to Violet. One ghost in particular is quite insistent that Violet help her catch her murderer before he has a chance to kill her sister. Violet reluctantly starts to investigate the death along with her eager friend and childhood partner in crime but the closer she gets to the killer, the more Violet's life is in danger as well.

I adored Violet! Smart, independent, realistic with just a touch of whimsy and romance thanks to her love of novels. She wants out of her mother's business but in the late 1800s, the only way to escape is marriage, something Violet is unsure about. I also loved that Violet is so honest in an inherently dishonest situation which makes for great conflict between her and her mother.

The story is well-paced and fascinating. I have never been much for the Spiritualist craze of the late 1800s but its atmosphere made for a great setting in this book. In particular, the juxtaposition of the fake readings with the real ghosts was very well done.

Also, bonus besides an awesome heroine and great story? A handsome and charming Irish pickpocket. Enough said :-)
Profile Image for Kirsty (Amethyst Bookwyrm).
627 reviews72 followers
September 13, 2013
This and my other reviews can be found at http://amethystbookwyrm.blogspot.co.uk/

Violet has never believed in ghosts and people who can see them because of helping and living with her charlatan spiritualist mother. However, when Violet, her mother and Colin, an Irish orphan who helps out her mother and Violet has been getting strange feeling for him, visit Lord Jasper’s country estate, Violet keeps seeing a drowned girl everywhere she goes. Now with the help of Colin and her friend Elizabeth have to find out who this girl is and who killed her before they strike again.

Haunting Violet is another brilliant book by Harvey with everything I have grown to love about her work but instead of vampires it has Victorian’s and ghosts. I really like the mystery in this book as it kept me guessing about who the killer was and what was going to happen next.

I really like Violet because she is nice, down to earth and very loyal even when she does not really want to be. I also like the secondary characters as I felt they all had their own individual stories especially Elizabeth and Lord Jasper. I like the romance between Violet and Colin as it is sweet, romantic and had real depth to it.

I love Haunting Violet and I hope that there is another book; I would recommend this to people who liked Alyxandra Harvey’s other books.
Profile Image for Jan.
867 reviews41 followers
September 14, 2011
4 1/2 stars. In Victorian London, Violet has been helping her mother stage fake seances for years. She does not enjoy it, but she has no where to go so she does it, despite guilty feelings. So there really is no bigger skeptic than Violet. But on a trip to a country house for a set of seances at a country house, Violet starts feeling and seeing creepy things. Once at the estate, it only gets worse as Violet starts seeing ghosts all around her and one in particular, the desperate ghost of a young girl who was murdered.

WOW, I LOVED this book. It is creepy and clever and sweet. I thought the descriptions of the society in Victorian England were spot on. I also liked the links to the Spiritualist movement of the time. Violet is a likeable character as are her friends, Elizabeth and Colin. There is a sweet story of growing love that does not overshadow the ghost story. Violet's mother is a perfect wicked woman with no redeeming characteristics at all. The ghosts are all sorts, scary, funny and furry. I loved this book so much that I was willing to forgive the use of the word "snuck" on more than one occasion. This book is suitable for tweens as well as teens. Anyone who likes a nice historical ghost story should enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Serenity.
682 reviews44 followers
July 22, 2015
Violet is playing along in her mothers world. Her mum claims to be a medium, but she isn't. As for Violet, she just goes along on these trips, but doesn't believe in any of this. At first things are as normal as they can be for her. But what can she do when the one thing she doesn't believe in, believes in her? Well she'll need Colin's help. Colin is a great guy and you can tell they are close. After all, they did grow up together and know each other well. But can Violet take care of this ghost and keep things intact. Or will she risk everything?

When I started the book it was slow, and after a few chapters I was worried that I wouldnt finish it. Mainly because I usually love Alyxndra's writing. So I gave it a few more chapters and about a lil past halfway, things picked up and I was very happy with the book. The details were there and the story moved nicely, and it turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would.
Profile Image for Aly.
2,730 reviews
July 26, 2018
It started out a bit slow for me. The first 100 pages were rough to get through, but after that the story really picked up and I ended up liking it. It was interesting seeing how Violet's mother faked being a medium in the 1800s. Using a bellows to create wind, salts and powders in the fire to change the color, etc. It would be scary suddenly being able to see ghosts and then they all want things from you. I really liked Collin, he cared for Violet and believed her. Elizabeth was a good friend, helping Violet and being there for her. I kept guessing who the killer was all through the book and I appreciated all the little clues. I wish the pacing was better, but it wasn't a bad story overall.
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