A Year of Orenda – Violet by SJI Holliday

Today it is back to Mandie who has a #YearOfOrenda review of Violet by SJI Holliday. I reviewed the book on its release last year and you can read my thoughts right here.

About the Book

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…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…

Mandie’s Thoughts

Would you hook up with a total stranger and go travelling with them on a train after just one night of getting to know them? That’s exactly what Violet and Carrie do after meeting by chance in Thailand when Violet is unable to get hold of a ticket and Carrie just happens to have a spare one after her friend was unable to go on the trip of a lifetime with her.

On the face of it you may think that this would be a slow-paced book with very little going on but trust me you would be very much mistaken. Violet and Carrie are very different characters that probably would have not gravitated towards each other naturally, but it is these differences that at times were the catalyst for some of the things that happen along the way. Violet is quite secretive and reserved, yet there is something about her behaviour that would set you on edge as she seems to attach herself to Carrie quite quickly and gets jealous when she is not paying her the attention she deserves. She also seems to spend a lot of time on social media checking out the boyfriend she claims to have had enough of and left behind in Thailand. Carrie is more laid back and tends to take things as they come. She is quite the social butterfly, making friends easily wherever they are, but she also seems to know how to play to Violet and manages to keep the peace. 

The journey starts off pleasantly and we really get a sense of the different places and sights they see thanks to the beautiful descriptive writing, and if I am honest it has made me want to visit some of them (but only with someone I know and trust). It is only when they get off the train that the problems start,and you just don’t know what is going to happen next. Bit by bit we are treated to Violets true nature and get an insight into her upbringing, and she is definitely one seriously unhinged lady. That being said there is more to Carrie than meets the eye too and at one point I felt that these two maybe deserved each other.

With an ending I really wasn’t expecting this is one train journey you wont forget for a while and made me thankful that the only travelling I do is with my sister and our trips are never quite so eventful.

About the Author

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a scientist, writing coach and the bestselling author of five crime novels, including the Banktoun Trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly), the festive chiller The Deaths of December and her creepy Gothic psychological thriller The Lingering. Her short story ‘Home From Home’ was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize. Encapsulating her love of travel and claustrophobic settings, her latest novel, Violet, explores toxic friendships and the perils of talking to strangers, as well as drawing on her own journey on the Trans-Siberian Express over 10 years ago. All of her novels have been UK ebook number-one bestsellers. Susi was born and raised in Scotland and now divides her time between Edinburgh, London and as many other exciting places that she can fit in.

Books by the author

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