Grade: 3 stars out of 5
When her mother’s fake séance goes wrong, Violet is forced to step up. Her newfound spiritual powers will either make her the newest superstar or kill her when an avenging young girl wants Violet to solve her death.I fell in love with Alyxandra Harvey’s debut novel (Hearts at Stake), but fell shortly out of love with her two sequels. For me, Haunting Violet was a welcoming read as it strayed away from the vampires and into the realm of ghosts. Different readers have different preferences when it comes to books. I, myself, love paranormal romances. They’re like chocolate. But gluttony is a sin and too much can give a girl a stomachache. Haunting Violet was just another paranormal romance that had me intrigued, but I soon discovered (in addition to many other paranormal books) that it was a disappointment.
Before I start talking about what I found troubling about Haunting Violet, let’s start with some happy thoughts. I found the premise exciting. Violet was a well-likeable girl who didn’t throw tantrums when things didn’t go her way. Her love interests were sweet and one of them bordered on sexy (but not the dark, dangerous and bad sexy). One particular character that stood out that I am sure many of the readers will not like was Violet’s mother.
I found her to be such a fascinating character that has had her ups-and-downs. She was a housemaid that was forced to go to on her own when she was found pregnant. She created a world for herself, clothed and fed Violet. There is a deep level of resentment she holds against Violet and it’s understandable. While she wasn’t the most well-liked character, she was one of the strongest and I could feel her charisma through the pages.
I found Haunting Violet to be less than stellar and in need of a clear direction. The random bumbling to towns and the hazy plotline left me turning to another book. What I expected was a good mystery with an air of forbidden romance as Violet deftly lays down the clues of the death. Instead I read about Violet suddenly founding herself fancying her mother’s helper Colin (who, as Harvey keeps bringing up, used to always tease Violet and hide bugs in her things when they were younger). Her new self-consciousness around him is only bolstered when the charming (and again as Harvey keeps pointing out, the wealthy) Xavier tries to court Violet. Kissing two guys in one day? What a scandal!
Haunting Violet is an endless barrage of names and gossip that serves absolutely no purpose besides confusing the readers from trying to figure out the murderer. And that’s really hard to do when the entire thing gets dropped for a couple of chapters as Violet suddenly has amazing spiritual powers and understands the “third eye” from reading a book. In one day. I wished that Harvey spent more time taking time to explain the little details. Her mother’s affair; Colin’s history with his mother; Marjorie, the family’s maid I’m guessing, seems to vanish in thin air; Lord Jasper’s “powers” and his dead wife.
Haunting Violet has a good framework. It was the finer points, the lack of details or too many details in certain areas that drove the book to nowhere.
I originally love the cover, but now I find the colors a bit muted and the girl awkward.
Published: 2011, June 21; hardcover
Source: ARC from Walker Books for review