Violet by S.J.I. Holliday ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this twisty psychological thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to S.J.I. Holliday and Orenda books for the gifted ebook copy of this novel.

SYNOPSIS:

When two strangers end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, and intense friendship develops, one that can only have one ending…a nerve-shattering psychological thriller from bestselling author SJI Holliday.

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…

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MY REVIEW:

This claustrophobic and disturbing psychological thriller takes the reader on a wild ride as we follow travellers, and new friends, Violet and Carrie on their cross-country journey on the Trans-Siberian Express. Nothing and no-one is what they seem in this mysterious, foreboding and tense thriller that had me guessing throughout. 

The story is narrated by Violet with Carrie’s voice appearing in the form of emails to her friends and family back home. I thought this was a great way to show us Carrie’s perspective and give us an alternative look at events. Both girls were curious characters but not very likeable, and neither were any of the background characters we met along the way. From the start I didn’t trust Violet, and it was soon apparent that there was something very wrong with her. Something that ran deep. Carrie couldn’t have been more different. She is chatty and makes friends easily.  The pair develop a strong and intense bond but Violet goes further, developing an unhealthy obsession with her new friend and will do anything to keep her close. 

This was my first read by this author and I now can’t wait to read more. She transported me to places I’ve never been with her evocative and descriptive prose. I also loved how she teased us, alluding to fragments of the girls’ past and how we are left to guess what Violet means by the sinister sentences she will randomly throw out. It’s soon clear she has some dark secrets and is hiding behind a smokescreen of lies but the author leaves us as clueless as Carrie, heightening the suspense. 

Violet is an exciting story about obsession, jealousy, rage, secrets and devious desires. It is also a cautionary tale about trusting strangers and intense, toxic friendships. I devoured the pages as we approached the crescendo – the shocking revelations coming thick and fast, a million questions in my head –  before finally reaching the deft and satisfying conclusion. 

I would highly recommend this book, particularly if you enjoy Killing Eve or Single White Female. 

Out now. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a scientist, writing coach and 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.

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