Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Haunting Violet

Haunting Violet - Alyxandra Harvey Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.Raised from a young age by a mother aiming for the stars and a father she knows nothing about, Violet is used to going along with her mother's schemes, like her claims to be a Spiritualist when she is nothing but a fake assisted by Violet and Colin, an orphan boy they took in. Being part of her mother's scheme has made Violet a skeptic, but then Violet starts seeing ghosts for real. One in particular, a girl named Rowena who mysteriously drowned the year before, keeps appearing to Violet and it's obvious her death was no accident. Violet will have to solve this murder to keep the same fate from befalling Rowena's sister Tabitha--or worse, Violet herself.Violet's struggle with her mother, finding herself when she has to be surrounded by the lies her mother tells, and her developing gift felt so real to me and I came to care for her as if she were a real person. Sure, the novel is fairly low-stakes and there isn't much urgency in the threat posed to her, but Violet is such an interesting character that it doesn't matter. You care so much about how it's going to turn out after her gift turns up and her mother's fraud is revealed and her own gift is shoved into the spotlight that it drives the novel just as well as any urgent threat would.None of the details jumped out at me as blatantly anachronistic, so that's always a good thing. The way the text would scratch at how confined young women were at the time in what they could do made me smile, but I wish those little moments could have been better expanded on. The Victorian Spiritualism fad isn't a subject I've had much interest in before, but being able to look behind the curtain and see how Violet, Colin, and Violet's mother pull their illusion together has changed that. I'll have to look for more information about how the tricks were pulled off. I know such manipulations are horrible, but I find them almost respectable. Manipulation doesn't happen very easily.The only problem I had with Haunting Violet was that Violet's prim-and-proper-Victorian-girl voice sometimes got too dry and it made reading the novel feel less entertaining and more like a chore. These moments were only occasional, thank goodness. For most of the book, Violet's voice was clear and almost wry at times as she described the social confinements of women at the time and all the work that went into making a fake seance appear real.Thanks to its well-researched Victorian details, the behind-the-scenes sort of look at the fraudulent Spiritualists of the time, and the way it pokes at how wrongly women were treated at the time, among many, many other details I don't care to list off, Haunting Violet receives a special honor. When I go to college next fall, I'll be taking my entire library of 300+ physical books with me, but most of them will be ebooks. Only the best of the best will go with me as physical books instead of ebooks and Haunting Violet has earned its place in those ranks.