Book Review: Violet by SJI Holliday

Violet by SJI Holliday

Publisher: Orenda Books
Date of Publication: 14 September 2019 (epub) ; 14 November 2019 (paperback)


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…


I think I can sum Violet up in one word – terrifying! What’s terrifying about it, is the plausibility of the story.  
There is so much I want to say about this book, but I can’t do so without revealing some of the plot. This is the type of book where the less you know about the story the more impact it has and, as such, I’m keeping my review short and sweet.
As an adult it can be really difficult to make new friends, so if you find someone you ‘click’ with, life just seems that much brighter. So when Violet meets Carrie whilst desperately trying to get a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express out of Thailand, fate seems to have dealt her a good hand. Violet is immediately caught up in Carrie’s energy and spirit. Reluctant for their encounter to end, she manipulates the situation to ensure that they continue their travels together. There is definitely an edge of obsession in Violet’s immediate clinginess towards Carrie. As the reader gradually discovers, this is a friendship that comes with consequences.
The writing and plotting in Violetreally is a treat. The author has timed each twist and each reveal impeccably, resulting in an exponentially increasing flow of intrigue as the tale heads towards its conclusion. There is an underlying tension and sense of unease throughout the story which left me with the unshakable sensation that ‘something is about to happen’. The tale is interspersed with wonderfully vivid narrative about the exotic locations and the girls’ travel experiences.
The characterisations are equally brilliant. With the many twists, turns and reveals on the journey, it is difficult to decide who is good, who is bad or if the characters can even be labelled in such a ‘black and white’ fashion. The characters are both compelling yet unsettling. If feels somewhat karmic that they have been drawn to each other’s lives, and the evolution of their burgeoning friendship is fascinating to watch. Interestingly the story is told in first person narration from Violet and e-mails from Carrie, which provides an immediate distinction between the two voices.
It is difficult to review this book without giving anything away, but trust me, it is an absolute humdinger – atmospheric, menacing and totally riveting. I simply couldn’t put it down.  The plot speeds along weaving a tangled web that leaves you doubting not only the characters but also your own logic and reasoning. It twists and turns like a metaphorical Trans-Siberian Express, leaving the reader shocked and speechless by the very last page.  I thought this book was absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers!
I was fortunate enough to win a copy of Violet and therefore must give a big thanks to SJI Holliday for her generosity.

About the Author

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.

Social Media Links
Twitter: @SJIHolliday
Facebook: @SJIHolliday
Sign-up for updates and giveaways here:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s