Yesterday I brought to you my thoughts on one of Orenda Books Winter releases, well today I’m sharing my review of their second published Winter thriller; Violet by SJI Holliday. I said yesterday that Will’s Good Samaritans was my first Orenda Book that I read – the fish hook you could say, but The Lingering (Susi’s first Orenda published book baby) was my second read and between the both of them they reeled me in.
Violet is Nothing Important Happened Today‘s book twin, it was published in ebook on the 14th of September, so many of you electronic copy readers may have already gorged on this decadent thriller (if not, you can grab the ebook here), but those of you who prefer a physical copy of a book will have to wait until the 14th of November for publication….. Them are the rules! You can pre – order a physical copy here, or even request at your local library!
Susi (S.J.I.) Holliday grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. A life-long fan of crime and
horror, her short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize. Her serial killer thriller “The Deaths of December”, featuring Detective Sergeant Eddie Carmine and Detective Constable Becky Greene was a festive hit in 2017. She also has three crime novels set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun (written as SJI Holliday), which are a mix of police procedural and psychological thriller. They are: “Black Wood”, “Willow Walk” and “The Damselfly” – all featuring the much loved character, Sergeant Davie Gray.
Her spooky mystery “The Lingering” (written as SJI Holliday) was released in September 2018. Her latest book “Violet” (written as SJI Holliday) – a psychological thriller set on the Trans-Siberian Express is out in September 2019.
Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.
When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…
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…
Two classics – Single White Female and Mr Ripley, merged together in a conceptual entwining to create one of the most unexpectedly mind explosive psychological thrillers that I’ve had the goosepimply pleasure of reading. I agree with Steve Cavanagh’s front cover quote:
“Cements Holliday’s position as one of the most gifted psychological thriller writers in the business”
SJI Holliday has again created a contorted, uncomfortable and deeply taut read that takes the reader on a well visualised journey on the Trans – Siberian Express, using her own personal knowledge of the travelling trip (If you follow her on Twitter you would have been treated to some of her holiday snaps on the lead up to Violet‘s release). The psychologically suffocating plotline is written dominantly from Violet’s point of view, I immediately felt the slight beginnings of a chill that stayed with me and only grew by the nervy pretense of her character, especially her warning personality traits. Susi nailed the characterisation, the portrayal of her to others and her mentality just sent shivering sparks down my spine.
Inclusions of emails from Carrie were incorporated into the dialogue which personified her as a main character too. It was enough to share the ‘other side of the story’ and readingly moreish, I looked forward to each new communication. I thought that it was worked really well into the narrative, as it gave an alternative view point of view that was provided in jigsaw pieces that helped to build an ‘out of the box’ storyline.
Like all great psychological thrillers, the level of reading intensity in Violet is built slowly but escalates surely, with each chapter being heart – palpitatingly more engrossing than the last, quite like an accident that is about to happen but you can only see it in slow motion and you can’t do anything more than bite your fist and watch the collision happen (then gasp and then tell everyone about it after!)
I admired the taut complexity that was injected within the pages of this read, I appreciated the inclusion of some gasp worthy themes that keep us all hooked to an insidiously psychological thriller, from obsessively manipulated relationships, unreliable narratives, intoxicating female characters and a dangerously twisted concept. I really didn’t want the book to finish, I wanted to keep reading, I wanted more but that was just me being one greedy reader, the whole thing was perfectly written, perfectly sinister and is just another star on SJI Holliday’s psychological thriller royalty badge!
For me, Winter is all about these type of reads, the mixture of adrenaline with the hot chocolate on those cold nights should be a mood that everyone has come the colder months. Who needs to snuggle with the TV when you can get comfy under a blanket with a moreishly dark twisted novel? Exactly!
Thanks again to the wonderful Karen for kindly sending me a prelease copy of Violet, incase you haven’t got it yet – I absolutely loved it, even more so that I’ve said but to go down that road completely i’d have to unpick some of the threads weaved into the storyline, no-one likes a spoiler sport!
Thanks to you for reading the review, if you share or tweet anything Orenda Books-wise this month, please use the hashtag #Orentober, whether it’s an #OrendaShelfie, your Orenda current read etc, every little helps!