Violet by SJI Holliday #bookreview #Violet @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks #Orentober

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…


Hi and welcome to my review of Violet! Huge thanks to Karen from Orenda Books for providing me with an ARC in preparation of #Orentober! I hate to disappoint her but this will probably be my worst review ever. I feel like just throwing the book at you all, shouting READ IT and calling it a day!

But that won’t do, will it?! *sigh* It’s just hard to put into words what exactly makes Violet so brilliant, what it was about it that got under my skin.

If you look at it purely as entertainment, Violet is oodles of fun: it’s super entertaining, it’s suspenseful, it has some fun little twists that managed to simultaneously fool me and make a fool out of me, because there I was, convinced I was soooo clever, seeing things coming, while actually I was following a red herring and things turned out quite differently.

On a deeper level though, Violet is dark and disturbing and I got a little uncomfortable reading it because of the plausibility of it all. It scared me a little, even without a bathtub ghost! Violet puts the psychological in psychological thriller by presenting us with a main character that has more than one screw loose but manages to hide that fact masterfully and succeeds in fooling everyone around her, including the reader and sometimes even herself. She’s a human chameleon and no one sees through it. I went from being convinced that she’s just a poor albeit a little manipulative girl down on her luck to fearing that she had actual sociopathic tendencies. And that’s just Violet. Then there’s Carrie. What exactly is she trying to drown in buckets of booze?

Layer by layer is peeled away until we end up somewhere completely different from where we started out and I am in complete awe of Susi Holliday’s writing, contained, understated, clever. I was fascinated and afraid in equal measure, both feelings amplified by the filmic quality of the novel. Between the setting on the train on the one hand and the rather desolate accommodations on the other, and the flashbacks to memories temporarily lost in drug and alcohol induced stupors, this would make a brilliant film! As it is, the vivid, yet never overly descriptive, imagery allowed this whole story to play out before my mind’s eye without any effort from me.

When a story rings true the way Violet does, it’s usually a combination of great imagination and personal experience. Therefore, it came as no surprise that the author has been on the Trans-Siberian Express herself and made a train journey not unlike Violet and Carrie’s (but with less drama and toxicity, I’d assume). If you’d like to know more, check out Susi’s blog where she’s been sharing photos of the trip she took in 2006. I’ve never been to these parts of the world and I’ve been having fun with Susi’s photos, comparing reality to the images I had in mind while reading, and it’s testament to Susi’s writing skills that my mental pictures closely resemble her photos.

Violet is a gorgeous book, inside and out. Whether you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, you love reading about backpacking adventures gone wrong, or you’re just looking for your next great read, I highly recommend you pick up Violet!

Violet is out in paperback now, get it directly from Orenda Books here, or pre-order the paperback (out next month) here.

9 Responses

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *