When two strangers end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, an intense friendship develops, one that can only have one ending …
Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.
Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.
When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.
Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…
Hold onto your hats folks because we are in for one wild ride with this week’s blog tour! Following on from the success of creepy supernatural suspense thriller The Lingering, SJI Holliday is back – and this time, she’s putting the psycho in psychological thriller with Violet, a tale of two women, one journey, and a dangerous obsession.
Violet was meant to be on the trip of a lifetime. But having been unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, she’s stuck in Beijing at a loose end. Carrie was supposed to be taking in the world with her best friend. But following an unfortunate accident that has left her travelling solo, she’s got a spare ticket and an itch to meet new people. When the two women strike up a conversation in a hotel bar, a firm friendship is soon established. But, as they journey further into the Trans-Siberian wilderness, it quickly becomes apparent that both of these ladies are hiding something. And one of them might have a secret so dangerous that it could be the death of them…
I am in absolute awe of SJI Holliday’s ability both to set pace and to keep a reader guessing! From the very first sentence until the final staying-up-past-my-bedtime-to-finish-this turn of the page, I was utterly drawn into this tale of female obsession and deadly manipulation. I finished it over the course of a weekend, desperate to know what was to become of Violet and Carrie. And I wasn’t disappointed when I turned the final page!
Told primarily from the perspective of Violet, with emails from Carrie to friends and family back home giving an alternative viewpoint every few chapters, Violet is a taut, tense psychological thriller with Patricia Highsmith stylings. To say too much about the plot and the characters is to veer into spoiler territory however I was extremely impressed by Holliday’s ability to drop unsettling hints that all is not as it seems with Violet and Carrie, whilst maintaining the suspense throughout. Even with the benefit of a first-person perspective, it becomes impossible for the reader to tell who is the hunter and who is the prey in this twisted tale of toxic friendship.
As with The Lingering, Holliday also excels at writing unreliable – and even unlikable – narrators. Her portrayal of Violet in particular is masterful, gradually unsettling the reader as we’re allowed greater access into her thoughts and her past. The interspersed emails from Carrie successfully give her a strong voice in the narrative whilst providing a layer of hidden motivation. Violet’s inner voice might be unreliable but Carrie is hidden from the reader, revealed only in the public narrative she chooses to tell her friends and family back home. It’s a brilliant way of creating suspense, whilst giving the reader just enough of a connection to the two women to care about what happens to them.
I also loved the travel narrative element to the tale. In contrast to The Lingering, which played with the claustrophobia that comes from a self-contained location (a location that gets a brief but smart nod in Violet that is sure to make returning reader smile), Violet builds its suspense from the vast freedom and limitless potential of spontaneous travel. Evoking the sights and sounds of the various destinations that Carrie and Violet travel through, Holliday captures the giddy exuberance that comes from being young and free and with the whole world to explore. The style and tone (as well as some of the experiences) reminded me a little of the trouble-in-paradise narrative in Alex Garland’s The Beach and if you liked that novel, I would certainly recommend getting Violet on your To Be Read list.
In fact, I would recommend you get Violet on your To Be Read list sharpish anyway! This is a smart, taut psychological thriller that really will keep the pages turning. Perfect for curling up with by the fire on a cold night, Violet will grip you from the first and keep you guessing until the very final page.
My thanks go to the publisher, Orenda Books, for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and to Anne Cater for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until the end of the month so do check out the other stops for more reviews, guest posts, and content!