While I'll be keeping the formats of my "In A Nutshell" and standard reviews, I'll likely be changing the names to fit with this photography theme. So adios to the no-longer-relevant "In A Nutshell" title!
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
The subject: a girl grappling with newfound supernatural powers and hints of a murder.
The setting: 1872 England. The Gothic atmosphere is delicious, though it seems to rely somewhat on references to other novels and stereotypes of the period.
Shutter speed: Pretty slow, since many clues need to be gathered and there is some repetition, but the ghosts and romance do liven things up. And I was kept guessing the whole way through about the identity of the villain.
What's in the background? A mother-daughter relationship fraying at the seams. There's also a nice juxtaposition of the mother's role as a charlatan and her daughter's true gift of gabbing with the ghosts.
Zoom in on: the Violet and Colin relationship! The brewing romance is sweet, but I could have done with a bit more of it, really...I must admit I kept flipping the pages hoping for a glimpse of Colin.
Anything out of focus? If you're going to refer to Jane Eyre in your Gothic novel, please do it accurately. The red room is not at Thornfield Hall — it's at Gateshead. Mr. Rochester is not generally considered handsome. And Jane never runs away from the church, either before or after hearing the news of his dead wife. She is at the inn when she finds out, actually. I have to wonder, has Alyxandra Harvey ever read any part of Jane Eyre?
And the ending fell flat for me. While for the most part I did enjoy how the paranormal element was incorporated into the climactic scene, I was disappointed by the actual "whodunit" reveal, which seemed cliche and anti-climactic, with an overly simple (and boring) explanation. I would have liked a scarier villain who wasn't overcome quite so easily, too.
Ready? Say... "Murder!"
Click! 3.5 shooting stars.