Book Reviews

Violet by SJI Holliday Book Review. #Violet #BookBlogger #BookBloggers #BookReview #Orentober @OrendaBooks @SJIHolliday

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  • Violet.
  • SJI Holliday.
  • 276 pages.
  • Psychological Thriller.
  • My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.

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Book Blurb.

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…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…


Book Review.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The included quote is taken from that ARC.


“Sometimes people don’t tell you the whole story, they like to present the version of themselves that they want you to see.”

Violet and Carrie are thrown together by fate when they meet in a random encounter in a Beijing hotel. Carrie has a spare train ticket and Violet needs a ticket. They get talking at the bar, get on well over an evening of drinks and there seems to be a connection between them. The chance meeting ends with Carrie offering Violet her spare ticket and the pair escaping the pain of break-ups, taking a break from everyday life and enjoying a hedonistic journey through Mongolia, Siberia and Russia aboard the Trans-Siberian Express. Purchase your own ticket, take your own seat, join them and enjoy the insidiously sinister ride that Holliday takes you on.

Violet is written in the first-person from the perspective of Violet with the occasional email written by Carrie to her friends and family. This works well as it means that you get to see inside the minds of both of the girl’s. But, can you trust Violet? Can you trust Carrie for that matter? I have seen the deviousness, the evil within. I know the answer and I know where the cards fall as I’ve read the book. I also know that narrators can be unreliable and that, on occasion, they can have a rather tenuous grip on reality blurring the lines and playing fast and loose with the truth. For Violet, when you are reading you don’t know if you are reading the truth, a version of the truth or if you are being spoon-fed a mouthful of lies by Violet, by Carrie or by them both.

There is a contrast between Violet and Carrie, night and day, light and dark. Light and dark is very apt actually. Carrie comes across as affable, easy-going, good-natured, fun-loving, open, a people person and warm (light). While Violet has an intensity to her personality, suffers mood swings that change like the wind and comes across as calculating, cold, detached, reserved and like she has something to hide (dark).

Then, there are moments when the mask slips. At times, Violet seems nicer, showing a hint of kindness, compassion and consideration. While, at times,  Carrie seems to have inner darkness to her, barked words, easy to anger and venom in her voice as though she is hiding her true self. A variety of little things throughout the journey that slightly alter your perception of them both and make you question what and who is really buried beneath the surface.

There is something off about both Violet and Carrie but you’ll struggle to put a feel on what exactly it is that is ‘off’ about them. It’s a feeling that you have and the pair make for compelling, compulsive reading as you delve deeper into their tangled and newly formed intense friendship. Holliday effortlessly draws you in and as the cracks start to slowly appear you need to know what happens.

The writing is addictive and taut. The story itself is dark, twisted, tightly plotted and filled with simmering tension. The suspense builds throughout and you have a feeling of disquiet, of unease coursing through your veins for the unknown darkness that will surely come to pass. 

It is only a small thing but there is a mention of Rosalind House, the commune that features in Holliday’s previous book, The Lingering which was a really cool little nod.

Violet is a psychological thriller. As such, when you boarded, when you turned the first page and when you started your journey you knew that the destination would be dark and Holliday doesn’t disappoint. There is something bad, something lurking unseen, a looming spectre in the dark, biding its time and waiting. When Holliday decides to pull back the shroud and finally reveal the true visage of the hidden darkness it is disturbing, shocking and wonderfully dark.

Luckily, I’m not a people person. I won’t go as far as to say that Slipknot had it right with their song ‘People = Shit‘ but, yeah, for many, that sentiment is spot on. Though, I admit, some, in small doses, are OK. I’m antisocial, I’m not a chatty sort and my point is, if you are a talkative person, someone who likes to chew the fat and shoot the breeze with any random weirdo person then Violet is a book that will make you question talking to a stranger again…ever. Think about it, who knows what dark secrets could be hidden under the facade of the person that they appear to be? That polite nod and hello could be the start of a new friendship or, it could be the biggest mistake you make.


Pre-order Violet (ebook out now) and paperback released on November 14th, 2019.

Amazon UK Amazon US Book Depository


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18 thoughts on “Violet by SJI Holliday Book Review. #Violet #BookBlogger #BookBloggers #BookReview #Orentober @OrendaBooks @SJIHolliday

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