Violet by S.J.I. Holliday #BookReview #BlogTour

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…
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…

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Violet today. many thanks to S.J.I. Holliday, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

My eldest daughter is a young adult and is hoping to be able to travel at some point. It's something I've always encouraged but Susi Holliday has put a halt to that! She's also made me question my own dream of going on an epic railway journey - after reading Violet I've decided it's much safer to stay at home and avoid any exchanges with strangers, ever...
Violet is a chilling psychological thriller which combines the dangerous hedonism of The Beach with the creepy obsession of Single White Female and in the titular main character, has a Ripley-like unreliable narrator. After a brief but ominous prologue, Violet's first appearance seems to be innocent enough. She is alone in Beijing, having just split with her boyfriend and travel companion. She is clearly the sort of person who isn't comfortable with her own company and so engineers a conversation with fellow solo traveller, Carrie after she overhears her failing to obtain a refund on a Trans-Siberian train ticket. Even during their initial meeting, it quickly becomes evident that Violet peppers her conversation with apparently inconsequential lies. It all seems harmless as the pair bond over drinks but as Carrie offers her spare ticket to Violet, there is already a sense of foreboding as to what lies ahead.
Violet, herself is a fascinating creation - a contradictory enigma whose mercurial mood swings means that she is constantly  - and potentially dangerously - unpredictable. Meanwhile, the glimpses into Carrie's character which are revealed through the email exchanges she has with her friends and family back home, suggest that she has her own secrets. Violet might be the dark centre of the story but it's far from clear as to whether Carrie can be entirely trusted either.
One thing that really struck me while reading Violet is that none of the characters are especially likeable; in real life I wouldn't want to spend much time with any of them, and yet this ensued they were absolutely compelling throughout the book. A trip into the Gobi to stay with a Mongolian nomadic family and a debauched visit to a shamanic festival is a key moment in the story and is described with beautifully immersive imagery. The stark landscape and unfamiliar customs of the nomads - the ewe's milk with salted doughnuts definitely sounds like an acquired taste - becomes even more striking when juxtaposed with the confused discord which follows their reading with a shamen.
As the story progresses, shocking events and disturbing revelations meant that I tore through the pages, never quite sure just what Violet had planned or what she was capable of. Her memories of her mother are particularly puzzling and hint at a troubled past which might explain why she is such a curious fusion of cunning resourcefulness and manic neediness. Seeing her adapt, physically and psychologically to her different surroundings is intriguing; by setting a thriller on a trans-national rail trip, there is a natural pace to the novel which ensures she is constantly in a position to surprise readers.
Violet is a magificently disturbing psychological thriller which may have you questioning every interaction you have with another person after reading it but thankfully it is is so addictive you have the perfect excuse to avoid talking to the stranger sat next to you! Highly recommended.

Violet is published by Orenda Books, it is available now as an ebook and will be out in paperback on 14th Novemer 2019. Purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a scientist, writing coach and the bestselling author of five crime novels, including the Banktoun Trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly), the festive chiller The Deaths of December and her creepy Gothic psychological thriller The Lingering. Her short story Home From Home was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize. Encapsulating her love of travel and claustrophobic settings, her latest novel, Violet, explores toxic friendships and the perils of talking to strangers. All of her novels have been UK ebook number-one bestsellers. Susi was born and raised in Scotland and now divides her time between Edinburgh, London and as many other exciting places that she can fit in.
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