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Haunting Violet    by Alyxandra Harvey order for
Haunting Violet
by Alyxandra Harvey
Order:  USA  Can
Walker, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Alyxandra Harvey's Haunting Violet is set in the Victorian era when the upper levels of society were fascinated by spiritualism. Violet Willoughby's lovely, low-born mother Celeste (once Mary Morgan) exploits the fad by posing as a medium. She takes advantage of lonely and grief-stricken old women, and has involved her daughter in her schemes since 1865 when Violet was nine years old.

Their small household also includes as servants Irish Colin Lennox (Violet's closest friend) and Marjorie. When Violet is sixteen, her mother has won fame as a medium and they are invited by an earl and Spiritualist, Lord Jasper, to his country estate. There, though Celeste puts on her usual fraudulent show, Violet begins to see real spirits, in particular that of a murdered young woman, Rowena, who was heiress to a neighboring estate. Her disagreeable twin sister, Tabitha, seems to be in danger too.

Violet tries to solve the mystery of Rowena's death, while dealing with her feelings for both Colin and the rich young man, Xavier, who is courting her. She's aided in her investigation by her dear friend, Lord Jasper's goddaughter Elizabeth, as they share their frustration with corsets and the often absurd requirements of polite society. A series of accidents almost kills the sleuth, who also faces a steep learning curve on how to safely contact spirits.

When Violet's mother is exposed as a fraud, all seems lost. But after Celeste discovers her daughter's true talent, she arranges a comeback - and Violet finally exposes a killer and finds her place in life, out of her mother's shadow. Haunting Violet is an engrossing paranormal gothic tale, not to be missed.

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