Violet by SJI Holliday


I love SJI Holliday’s writing with several of her books awaiting reading so I can’t believe it’s been two years since she featured on Linda’s Book Bag in an interview to celebrate Damsel Fly that you can read here. I previously reviewed Willow Walk here too. Today, I’m thrilled to share my review of Susi’s latest novel, Violet, and cannot thank the author enough for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.

Published by Orenda, Violet is available in ebook now and paperback pre-order here.



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.

My Review of Violet

Violet and Carrie develop a friendship that has greater consequences than they might imagine.

If I say that I sat down to begin reading Violet and barely looked up until I had devoured every word some hours later you’ll understand how good a book it is. SJI Holliday manages to imbue every word with an intangible, yet palpable, menace so that I was compelled to read on. I honestly had no idea which of the characters I might trust, who was a psychopath and who an innocent. This is brilliant writing.

I have to say something about the cover to Violet because it’s quite perfect for the narrative. Obviously I don’t want to spoil the plot for others, but as I read I wasn’t sure which perspective I could believe, there are several train lines and journeys both actual and metaphorical in the story and always something just out of reach for Violet like the vanishing point in the image.

The plot zips along with a pace that pulls in the reader and leaves them reeling. The story builds incrementally so that each chapter ends with an irresistible uneasiness or revelation that made my eyes widen and did not allow me to put down the book. My own self will deserted me under the spell of SJI Holliday’s writing.

I loved the almost film noir settings that gave an added edginess to the plot, but it was the characterisation that held me spellbound. SJI Holliday gets right under the skin of Violet, simultaneously making her appealing, unnerving and captivating. I felt as mesmerised by her as any of the others in the story do. As her relationship with Carrie developed, I experienced an elevated pulse rate and frequently found myself holding my breath. I was equally appalled and fascinated by Violet and Carrie’s desperate hedonistic use of alcohol and drugs because SJI Holliday made me understand the underlying reasons for their behaviour through her fabulous psychological narrative.

It’s so hard to review Violet without giving away anything that will spoil the read for others, so I’m just going to say that this is a fabulous book, totally captivating and completely unnerving. The writing is skilled, sophisticated and totally realistic so that Violet becomes an all too plausible story that might happen to any of us. I cannot recommend it highly enough as I thought it was fantastic.

About SJI Holliday


S.J.I. (Susi) 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.

She has written three crime novels set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun, 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 serial killer thriller The Deaths of December (written as Susi Holliday), featuring Detective Sergeant Eddie Carmine and Detective Constable Becky Greene was a festive hit in 2017.

Her spooky mystery The Lingering was released in September 2018.

Her latest book Violet – a psychological thriller set on the Trans-Siberian Express is out in September 2019.

You can find out more about SJI Holliday on her website and on Facebook and by following her on Twitter @SJIHolliday.

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