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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
1872. Seances are the rage. Prominent amongst the fake mediums is "Celeste Willoughby", now invited to perform in stately homes. Sixteen year old daughter Violet is her reluctant accomplice, shocked soon to discover she herself has a genuine gift. Ghosts begin to converge, especially that of drowned young heiress Rowena. Hers was no accident, but murder. She wants Violet to put matters right....

At first the tone is light - likeable Violet irrepressible and accident prone. Gradually the mood darkens, with horrific episodes - she grateful for protection from Colin, her companion since childhood.

An enjoyable read, relying rather a lot on contrivances. Some readers may lose patience with ghost Rowena. Why all the messing around? She knows who killed her. Why not just say? Seances, fraudulent or not, allow an ideal opportunity.

Especially appealing is the developing relationship between Violet and Colin, he once prone to much teasing and practical jokes. Friend Elizabeth is also fun. To be honest, I was not over-impressed by the supernatural aspects, but the murder mystery intrigued. Also most interesting were details of the tricks used in fake seances.

Recommended to those who like a young heroine with spirit (not to mention spirits) and who enjoy a shudder or two.
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VINE VOICEon 21 June 2011
*4.5 Stars*

I'm a big fan of Alyxandra Harvey's Vampire series, The Drake Chronicles. The second book in the series (Blood Feud) is my favourite though. I loved the historical flashbacks to the French Revolution injected between the main story, and in my review remarked that Alyx should think about writing historical when she was done with the Drakes . Little did I know she already had one in the pipeline, Haunting Violet, which went immediately on my must read list as soon as I became aware.

Haunting Violet is set in quite probably my most favourite time in history to read about, Victorian, and centres around the fascinating spiritual medium world, which was extremely popular then. So already I'm sold on this story. And it doesn't disappoint at all; Evocative of its time, eerie and spooky, genuinely mysterious and with that trademark Harvey wit and strong female lead - it's a winning combination.

I loved the character of Violet. Despite being bullied and used by her fraudulent and resentful single mother, she remains a strong character willing to fight back. She has a modern outlook while still fitting in with her era, which makes her both interesting and relatable. Compassionate (if at times grudgingly so to the ghost who desperately needs her help) and intelligent she rocks big time. I thought the plot between the two potential love interests was extremely well done, cringing at her mother's attempts to marry her off to a wealthy gentleman and championing the underdog. There are both very funny and touching scenes in the book, captured in a style unique to this author.

The mystery was also fantastic. What can be more thrilling than a haunted country mansion and a party of nobility and gentry with a murder suspect firmly hidden amongst them. It had a kind of Agatha Christie feel to it, as in it could have been ANY of them, and it was down to the unlikely heroine to eliminate the suspects one by one. For most of the book I didn't know who was responsible, thinking `aha' several times. And while I did guess the eventual culprit a few pages before the reveal, it was still exciting and full of danger so not at all disappointing. Violet's interactions with the ghosts she comes across range from chilling and terrifying to absolutely hilarious, so throughout the book I was either holding my breath in suspense or laughing out loud.

What I really enjoy about Alyxandra Harvey's writing is her snappy, no nonsense and to the point approach. None of her books are particularly long, generally around 300 pages. Yet she always manages to pack so much in and it never feels as if you've been short changed. Haunting Violet is no different and once again the pace gallops along at an engrossing speed with no dips of concentration or loss of interest along the way. I'd highly recommend her books to the more reluctant reader or those with a shorter attention span. Impressively, she also manages to convincingly place us in Victorian England, using authentic sounding language and behaviours without overdoing it and alienating readers by being formal and heavy.

Haunting Violet is a definite success in my eyes and a book I'm only too happy to recommend. Mingling historical settings, romance, a murder mystery and a ghost with Harvey's unique style makes it a must read for fans. I'd also recommend it to fans of Victorian historical fiction and mysteries too, in fact I can't think of many it won't appeal to.
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on 24 May 2012
Haunting Violet was a great read! It is centred around the character of Violet Willoughby, a girl who has a new-found talent for seeing the dead. For years her mother has swindled grieving patrons at fake seances. Violet's mother was a brilliantly horrible piece of work: one of those characters you could thoroughly enjoy loathing!

Violet herself was great. I always like characters who love the books I love, and Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favourites! I'm not usually one for historical settings, but the nineteenth century setting of this novel provided the perfect atmosphere. I loved the parlour tricks the group used to simulate the visiting spirits, and the bitchy guests at the manor were brilliant little caricatures.

The romantic element of the book was predictable, but sweet. It was a bit of a shame that the fella's name was Colin, though. Poor dab. Much more enjoyable and dynamic was the friendship between Violet and her plump and energetic friend, Elizabeth.

I think, in a lot of ways, this was a brave book. The Victorian English setting, the old fashioned names and customs, as well as the "murder mystery" aspect of the narrative, are all things which probably should alienate a lot of younger readers. However, Harvey manages to balance these things with relatable, fairly modern characters, a healthy dose of paranormal intrigue, and a sweet romantic element.

Thoroughly enjoyable! Oh, and I love the dress the girl on the book cover is wearing. He he. Four stars!
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VINE VOICEon 15 October 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Violet's mother is a fake medium in Victorian England, plying her trade amongst the landed gentry. It's going so well, that Violet finds herself anticipating a proposal from one very well off gentleman. However, Violet herself has started to see some real ghosts - and one in particular seems to be rather insistent that Violet pays attention.

At its heart, this is a who-dunnit, with a paranormal twist. There are some nice touches around the snobbish nature of Victorian society, and how parlour tricks were used by unscrupulous fake mediums to make money. Some of the characterisations were a bit unconvincing, however, and I felt that the relationship between Violet, and her best friend Elizabeth, could have been portrayed much better. As it was, Elizabeth came across as a one dimensional side kick.

That said, my 10 year old daughter absolutely loved this book, and was unable to put it down. It had that combination of paranormal and romance, which can really appeal to girls. So I am impressed with the ability of the book to draw her into the story.
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on 12 July 2011
4.5/5
When l opened Haunting Violet and saw that it was written in past tenses (around 1870s if l remember right!) l was a bit nervous about whether this would ruin it for me. It didn't!
Haunting Violet has the perfect balance between enough historical information for me to understand the story but not too much to the point it bored me. I actually found l enjoyed the descriptions which Alyxandra gave of the surrounding area and how she didn't describe them too much but added to the images in my head by describing it some more at a later point.

Violet is a great character who just wants to live a simple existence and be happy. This made me warm to her straight away as well as chuckle at her a few points in this book at some of her complaints. It was great to know Violet had someone there to guide her through everything, Colin, even though she is a strong character you can see at times she just needed someone who she could be herself with.

I found myself constantly picking this book up to quickly read what happens next but l was never quite satisfied as there was always some other twist being added just as something is revealed. The speed in which everything happened felt perfect, it didn't go on too long that anything became unrealistic or boring but things were discovered in a way which kept me gripped. The ending really got my heart racing, l never knew what was going to happen next and how the characters were going to react.
I loved how Haunting Violet also offers much more than Violet trying to uncover the murderer. The romance in this book is very interesting and sweet, l found myself learning a lot of how marriages used to work in the 1800s as well as other relationships, especially the relationship between Violet and her mum.

One thing l will say is that l was sometimes confused as to who was who. There was a lot of `Lords' and l think my brain just clicks off after the `first name' so everyone was lord to me!
Overall Haunting Violet is a great book written in the 1800s which is much more than you can imagine! It has a bit of everything including ghosts, romance, humour, murder, as well as characters that are evil, good, rich and poor. Every character l met was unique and l found it interesting to see how money seemed to play a bigger part in life in the 1800s then now. At least l felt so with how the money depended on who you could talk to, marry and what you could do.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Life isn't the easiest on Violet Willoughby, what with having your mother being a somewhat, of the time, famous 'spiritualist' in the backdrop of the 1870's.

Beautifully relate-able today despite the historical setting we delve into the life of Violet who is headstrong, smart and pretty. Any hope of a normal life of the time are pushed aside with her mother's overbearing and constant need to prove herself as someone who can help those speak to the dead but is revealed by Violet in the very first chapter to be nothing but a fake and Violet is tiring and starting to feel uncomfortable with the charade that her mother manipulates her and the boy she took in Collin, into helping. Only to scam the bereaved most of the time of their money. With Violet tiring of the game we see her struggle to show her strength and will to such an overbearing figure in her life but when her mother tries to intervene with her love life and trying to get her to marry someone she doesn't love for money and so she can palm her off instead of letting her love and marry the person she wants.

And if it's not bad enough for her lot in life to be heavily supernaturally influenced, all be it as a hoax, she soon becomes involved in a murder mystery which see's her open up to the supernatural world in a way her mother could only dream of. With a constantly building game of guess who the killer is to the backdrop of balls and manor houses and high society teas, it is an intricately woven plot line that builds until the killer is caught.

Shocking twists and turns all over the place and characters such as Collin and Elizabeth which add to the Victorian feel and bring the tone back from the high society element it is a unique book which successfully twists supernatural with Victorian and high society aspects which you would think would not work together.

As a fan of Harvey's Drake Chronicles, I was looking forward to this book and I was not disappointed, and if your look for more Harvey, check out the Drake Chronicles :)

Cassandra220689
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VINE VOICEon 24 September 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I hadn't heard of Alyxandra Harvey before reading this book, and I have to say that I am very likely to read more books by her.

The setting is approximately in 1872 in Victorian England, switching between London and a country house, and coinciding with the spiritualism craze that was rising at around that time. Violet's mother is a clutching fake medium, and they travel performing seances with their two servants, Colin and Marjorie. A short while after the start of the book, Violet starts to see real ghosts, one of whom, Rowena, is connected to the people she meets at a spiritualist house party.

The first couple of chapters read very awkwardly to me, with several anachronistic references that stood out; I had the feeling that this could have been an early attempt by the author. However, as I got further into the book that story brought me in, and I noticed them less often.

Most of the characters are very shallowly drawn; only really Violet seems fully real, with Colin an idealised love interest, Mrs Willoughby (her mother) simply malicious, and Elizabeth, Violet's friend, rather soppy.

I want to emphasise that there's a lot of potentially interesting background to the story - Violet's father, who we very briefly meet, and the mechanics of the ghost world are certainly intriguing. Add to that an enchanting heroine, a fast moving story, and I think there's plenty there for the average YA reader.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The story is about Violet who is 16 years old and is set back in the 1800's. Violet's mother is a medium however not a genuine one. Her mother uses tricks such as drugging her customer's drinks, dimmed lights, bellows under the table etc to make her seances appear real to her customers. Violet has grown up having to take part in her mothers tricks and constant grasps for fame, money or preferably a rich man to marry or become his mistress and there is really only a few words I can think of to try to describe how horribly selfish her mother is. Violet and her mother have been invited to Lord Jasper's country home to contact the spirits via a seance and basically entertain his friends so they have all of their tricks to fool the guests planned. However whilst there Violet finds that she can actually see the spirits of the dead and one in particular - Rowena from the neighbouring country home who recently died. Rowena seems intent on trying to tell Violet something and Violet soon realises that Rowena's death was actually no accident but can Violet find out who the killer is and help to save Rowena's twin sister from the same fate?

I haven't read any of Alyxandra Harvey's books before and from some of the reviews wondered if I had chosen a book that I would enjoy but I have got to say I really did enjoy reading this and before I knew it I had finished the book - a really good read.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sixteen year old Violet has been assisting her widowed spiritualist medium mother since she was nine, so she is well aware that she's a fraud, playing people for money and fame. Celeste is also poor and is not a widow, in fact she had Violet out of wedlock. But she is desperate to keep up appearances, so as well as lying about her past, abilities and living above her means, she has even taken in two orphans - Colin and Marjorie - over the years to pose as her butler and hand maid.

Celeste Willoughby's game is working and she is respected enough that she has been invited to stay at the estate of a local Lord with other spiritualists for a week, as he is interested in the world of the paranormal. So Celeste brings along Violet, Colin and Marjorie to help her to fake her seances as usual, then she spends the rest of her time looking for a rich husband.

Violet has unsurprisingly grown up to be sceptic and wants to get married quickly, purely to escape her lying, social climbing mother, whom she can't stand for playing with the emotions of grieving families and who drinks 'medicinal' brandy constantly. So when Celeste lines up a rich suiter for Violet, she is quite excited by the prospect of stating afresh, out of reach of her money grabbing mother.

But Violet now has a secret of her own; since arriving out the estate of Lord Jasper, she has begun seeing ghosts. She may not believe in ghosts, but they certainly believe in her and want her to pay attention to them. Violet can't go on living in denial for too long, as the ghost of a drowned girl has zeroed in on her and won't be ignored. And since it looks like her death wasn't a accident like everyone believes - she was murdered - Violet will have to investigate the matter, before the ghost's surviving twin meets a similar fate.

So Violet has to solve a murder that officially never happened, keep her abilities hidden from her opportunistic mother and avoid scaring of a suiter who thinks that she's a rich girl, from a respectable family. Easy peasy.

***

I love how the setting is in Victorian London and that the heroine is trying to pass as a middle/high class society girl, as we have way too many street wise, gun toting, smart mouthed, 'sassy' heroines in urban fantasy books. Reading how people used to fake seances in those days was especially interesting for me.

The author has a perfect grasp on the sights, sounds and 'rules' of the era perfectly and knows how to add twists into the plot without them coming across as 'soap opera'. The book is meant to be YA, but it doesn't read as something tweeny - anyone can read this, from 9 to 90.

I'd especially recommend this to fans of chelsea quinn yarbro, Coleen Gleason and Gail Carriger.
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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.

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 ]
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