Monday, 19 August 2019

Violet by SJI Holliday

By SJI Holliday
Published by Orenda Books (E-book - 14 September 2019; Paperback - 14 November 2019)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher

Publisher's description
When two strangers end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, an intense friendship develops, one that can only have one ending … a nerve-shattering psychological thriller from bestselling author SJI Holliday
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…

My verdict
If you follow my reviews, you'll know that I love SJI Holliday's books. Violet is set to be one of my favourite reads of this year.

Violet was great fun to read - there's mystery, humour and intrigue on every page. The writing is beautiful and compelling. The plot is creepy, chilling and clever - and very dark and very twisted.
It's what I often call a 'car crash book'. When you know something bad is going to happen but you have no idea what, and there's obviously nothing you can do to stop it. And then, BAM, it all hits you.

I could tell that the author has first-hand experience of the Trans-Siberian Express journey, from all of the tiny descriptive details, and I suspect that the book was a highly personal one to write. Maybe not the best book to read when your 18-year-old son is interrailing around Europe, but fortunately my son came back safely in one piece - unlike some of the characters in this book!

SJI Holliday has written two believable and deeply flawed unreliable narrators. I had no idea which one was to be trusted, if either of them. I read the book with bated breath - and wanted to applaud the author's brilliance at the end.

I don't often 'compare' books as it's not something I'm very good at, and reading is such a subjective experience anyway. But immediately I thought of Liz Nugent's Skin Deep - both books featuring an in-depth analysis of a female psychopath.

SJI Holliday is proving to be a master of psychological thrillers, with expert plotting and fabulous characterisation. Brilliant stuff

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