Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts, especially since her mother has worked as a fraudulent medium for a decade. Violet has taken part in enough of her mother’s tricks to feel more than a little jaded about anyhting supernatural.
The ghosts, however, believe in Violet and she’s been seeing them everywhere. One ghost in particular needs Violet to use her emerging gift to solve her murder . . . and prevent the ghost’s twin sister from suffering the same fate.
I was lucky enough to meet Alyxandra Harvey last month and get an early copy of Haunting Violet which I started on the way home and devoured over the next couple of days. I'm a massive fan of Victoriana coupled with the paranormal so was super-excited to read it. Violet has had a difficult start in life - daughter of a single parent who turns to mediumship as a way to make ends meet. Gradually, Celeste Willoughby becomes more respected and her clients more famous. Her daughter Violet is not only dragged along to all of the seances but also has to take part rigging up all the gadgets which trick the desperate into believing that their loved ones really have returned from the grave.
Violet dreams of a life outside of the seances but can't see a way out. Her only friend is Colin, a boy who works for Celeste, and Elizabeth - daughter of Lord Jasper who was a keen member of the Spiritualist church. Violet, Celeste and Colin find themselves at Lord Jasper's country estate in Wiltshire to perform a seance for the best of society. It is here that the bulk of the action takes place. Violet is an interesting combination of the worldy-wise and the innocent. She would rather walk around in Whitechapel than the fields of Wiltshire but is shy around boys and unsure of her appeal. I really felt for her as she tried to remember the many rules that bound her when in society - she is only able to be herself around Colin. While Celeste is a terrible fraud using the sort of tricks that were common at this time Violet is completely unprepared when ghosts start to appear to her unbidden. At first she hopes that she is merely tired but one in particular keeps on appearing and it is clear that she needs Violet to help her.
Part ghost story and part murder mystery, Haunting Violet fair skips along. I am totally in love with all the Victorian detail that Alyxandra has included, from what a lady should and shouldn't do, wear or say to the books of the day. I was cheering for her when she finally works out how she can solve all her problems and sympathised alongside her as she dealt with her awful mother. At the moment I don't know if there will be a sequel to Haunting Violet but I really hope there will be. Violet is a fascinating character who I'd love to see more of.
To celebrate the release of this fabulous book we have one copy of Haunting Violet to give away. This competition is open to UK people only and one lucky winner will be taken from the comments. We'll pick a winner using random.org so please include an email address in your comment so we can contact you to let you know you've won and find out where to send your prize. The closing date for the competition is Tuesday 28th June.