Friday 11 October 2019

Review: Violet by SJI Holliday

VioletViolet by S.J.I. Holliday
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never did the Trans Siberian Express although I thought about it after spending a year or so backpacking. I did do other long train journeys, like The Ghan from Adelaide to Alice Springs, and all the way up the east coast of Australia, and I used to talk to people all the time. That's part of the backpackers life. This book certainly grasped the feel of the backpackers life - even though you don't often come across people who are quite like Violet ... thankfully.

This book reminded me of the film, The Beach, which shows the highs of backpacking and going off grid and the people you meet, and then exposes the dirty underbelly and the true characters of some of them. Violet does this, but in a slightly different way: more psychological, and insipid. The slow drip effect of realising the deeper you get into it, the more off kilter it gets. And that is how Carrie gets to feel about Violet. And SJI Holliday also manages to do this to the reader too, and not just about Violet.

There is an expectation from the start that something will be revealed about Violet, and you are waiting for it, but then things go a bit strange in the middle, at a particular event, and you become unsure. I was no longer certain which way things were going to fall and who actually was the twisted one. That is down to the talent of the writer.

Holliday manages to weave a tale that twists and turns, not just writing about unsettling characters but able to unsettle the reader about the characters and what the truth is behind the story, making them unsure which way is up - explaining the brilliant design of the cover. And at the same time I felt a certain sympathy for Violet, more so than for Carrie in the end.

The characters were depicted perfectly to me; I could envisage them both. I felt I almost knew them, being British and having been a backpacker. They drew you in and captured you as you waited to see how it was going to turn out. And you get to know it all, with a tiny little kicker at the end too, just to bring it full cycle.

If you want a glimpse into a broken mind and a broken person, and how this can play out, and how dark and sinister it can get, then this is the book for you. Psychological thriller at its best.

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