Publisher: Walker Childrens (2011)
Format: Hardcover | 344 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
I'd never read anything by Alyxandra Harvey before this book but I am certainly curious now (even if her other series features vampires, ugh). :)
Violet doesn't really like conning the lords of the realm, but that's how she and her mother survive. Taking advantage of the high society's interest with the occult and mediums Violet's mother pretends to the the latter and has earned herself quite a reputation in the field. Violet and their sort-of-servant, Colin are left with the task of providing sound and wind effects to make the experience all the more exciting.
When Violet's mother is invited to Lord Jasper's country Manor to display her talents, weird things begin to happen. As strange as it seems Violet seems to actually be seeing... ghosts?
"Haunting Violet" is a Victorian-themed paranormal mystery. I liked how the author explored the Victorian fascination with mediums and the supernatural and linked her main characters to that world.
The book reads mostly like an historical romance. The whole 'Manor House party' has that feel and the relationship between Violet and her love interest is also reminiscent of an historical romance in the way it develops (thankfully it's not insta-romance!). It's only the supernatural elements of the story that add a certain Gothic, dark edge to the book, especially when it comes to certain interactions between Violet and the ghosts.
I didn't much care for the way Violet suddenly started seeing ghosts. One day she didn't and the next she did and the author provided little to no explanation for the abrupt change. On the other hand I really liked Violet's first reactions to the ghosts (the ague, lol).
The mystery was a bit simplistic and quite easy to figure out and that would be perfectly okay if this was an introductory book to a series, for example - which it doesn't seem to be. As it was, I thought the character interactions were more interesting than the story itself. Violet and Colin were cute, Violet's mother was intriguing (even if she was mean and all that) and Elizabeth was just so good-humored it was a delight to read about her. Unfortunately although they were fun characters they weren't particularly deep or well developed.
Overall, "Haunting Violet" is a nice and quick read for it's likable characters, cute romance, simple story and engaging writing style. Recommended for historical fantasy fans.