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Violet by SJI Holliday

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
Posted in | .

I never went backpacking in my formative years and after reading Violet, I think it is VERY safe to say that I NEVER will!

Violet is the latest release from SJI Holliday and is published in original paperback with Orenda Publishing. Described as ‘a tense, twisted and disturbing psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships’, this is a book with a dark atmosphere, claustrophobic qualities and a sense of toxicity all waiting to be caught on camera. Violet and Carrie. Carrie and Violet. Remind me NEVER to befriend a complete stranger should I happen to be travelling on my own!

Violet and Carrie find themselves journeying without their intended travelling partners on a trip that had originally been planned for two. Carrie’s best friend, Laura, was due to go on this big adventure with her but had an unfortunate accident before departure. Carrie, having saved for so long and with all plans made, decided to go alone. Now sitting in a hotel lobby in Beijing, in anticipation of the next stage of her trip, the Trans-Siberian Express, Carrie meets Violet.

Violet is upset. Fresh from some time spent in Thailand, Violet has parted ways with her boyfriend and now finds herself ticket-less and by herself in Beijung International Airport. The enormity of her situation hits her and she ventures to a hotel where she can supposedly pick up tickets for the Trans-Siberian Express. The ticket desk is closed but Violet spots a girl sitting by herself and asks to join her. Violet meets Carrie.

The two girls hit it off immediately but when Violet accepts Carries invitation to join her on for the Trans-Siberian rail journey in place of her friend, Laura, little do they know the real adventure they are about to embark on.

Their friendship becomes very intense from the outset, not that unusual given the circumstances, but as time passes, there is a shift in the atmosphere. What starts out as a carefree and fun relationship soon quickly darkens as they are challenged with new experiences. At times, literally tripping the light fantastic and suffering the dreadful headaches and hangovers that are part of this whole adventure, everything appears as it should. Two young women letting off steam and having fun while enjoying each others company and the new places they get to stay in. But as the reader we get a ‘behind-the scenes’ look at what really lies beneath and it is disturbingly ugly.

Violet is a dark, dark read. Both characters are brilliantly portrayed and as their true natures are hinted at over the course of the book, I was doubting myself on every page. Who was genuine? Who could be trusted? As the sinister aspects of the story began to seep in, the hairs were raised and an unsettling vibe emanated off every page. SJI Holliday slowly builds the reader up and then drops you right back down again. There is a very perverse streak running through this tale. The adventure quickly turns very threatening and to be honest, at times I didn’t know who I was shouting at, whose side I was on!

SJI Holliday travelled on the Trans-Siberian Express many years back and it is clear from the descriptions that her research is based on her own personal knowledge and facts. This level of authenticity adds an extra layer to the reading experience, adding an additional dimension to the tale.

Throughout the book both Carrie and Violet act in an almost frenzied manner. The risks they take increase and they seem to have very little self-preservation. It’s almost like they are competing with each other with their outrageous choices. No vice is safe as the girls explore everything that is made available to them, without heed to their own personal safety or health.

Violet is packed with suspense and twists but it is also a very menacing and ominous read. A skillfully wrapped package from start to finish, Violet is a psychological thriller that gets right under your skin.

Now would someone just buy the rights and make the movie please?

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.