I really enjoyed SJI Holliday’s last book, The Lingering, and so I was excited to read Violet, which is a really dark psychological thriller. What particularly appealed to me was the setting. Violet and Carrie first meet in Beijing. Both are travelling and Violet has just split from her boyfriend. Carrie is travelling alone because the friend she was supposed to be with has broken her leg. Violet needs a ticket for the Trans-Siberian Express and Carrie just happens to have one so they hook up and travel together.

I loved following the two women along the way but this is no happy hippy backpacker tale. Oh no, this is much more sinister and makes you think about who you make friends with and how little you really know about a person.. A woman travelling alone is in a vulnerable position but you’d think another woman travelling alone would be the perfect companion. Not here. I won’t go into it any further but suffice it to say that one of the women is someone I would definitely want to stay clear of, although I did often wonder if I could trust either of them.

I had a moment towards the end when I thought “Killing Eve!”. There are definitely vibes of that in this story. I’ve since seen that I’m not the only person who thought that. The journey takes in Russia and Germany amongst other places and some of the events seemed very similar to those in the TV programme.

There were twists and gasps galore as I just didn’t know what was coming and the ending was brilliant. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric novel. I enjoy being transported to other countries and it was interesting to see how the women coped with the problems that were thrown at them. Being in a foreign country and in any kind of peril is a really scary prospect, even just to read about.

The author has done a fabulous job at writing a gripping travel thriller, a multi-layered and realistic one. I found it to be a tense and exciting read.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 4/4

Violet by SJI Holliday
Orenda Books 9781912374854 pbk Nov 2019