Monday 25 April 2016

Reviewed: V for Violet by Alison Rattle

TITLE: V for Violet
AUTHOR: Alison Rattle
PUBLISHER: Hot Key Books


Amazon - Goodreads

Battersea, 1961.

London is just beginning to enter the swinging sixties. The world is changing - but not for sixteen-year-old Violet. She was born at the exact moment Winston Churchill announced Victory in Europe - an auspicious start, but now she's just stuck in her family's fish and chip shop dreaming of greatness. And it doesn't look like fame and fortune are going to come calling anytime soon.

Then she meets Beau. Beau's a Rocker - a motorcycle boy who arrives in an explosion of passion and rebellion. He blows up Violet's grey little life, and she can't believe her luck. But things don't go her way for long. Joseph, her long-lost brother, comes home. Then young girls start going missing, and turning up murdered. And then Violet's best friend disappears too. Suddenly life is horrifyingly much more interesting.

Violet can't believe its coincidence that Joseph turns up just as girls start getting murdered. He's weird, and she feels sure he's hiding something. He's got a secret, and Violet's got a dreadful feeling it might be the worst kind of secret of all ...

V for Violet presents a really compelling mystery, one full of shocks, twists and suspense and it is a book I was incapable of putting down. I was already excited to read this book reading the blurb alone and so when my copy arrived, I had to start it straight away and it completely lived up to my expectations.

Sixteen year old Violet is bored of life. Her childhood best friend Jackie has ditched her, flaunting her new group of friends who Violet just can’t get along with. She hates the gap in her life now Jackie has vanished out of it. At home, she’s daughter to parents whose livelihood comes from their chip shop. Destined to be serving fish and chips for the rest of her life, Violet dreams of something, anything, more exciting – and the day when her face can be framed on her family’s mantelpiece, something they could be proud of.

Violet’s voice is really strong and interesting throughout this book and I loved her character. She’s bold, witty, brave and extremely curious, always wanting to learn new things and understand how and why things are the way they are. A born reader, she loves spending time alone with her library books and of course I could relate and identify with those traits. I liked how she always followed her gut and even if other people found it annoying how she couldn’t let things go, she didn’t let anyone stop her. She was a wonderful protagonist who had so much depth to her character and I rooted for her right to the very last page.

I was really intrigued by this book and all the little twists and turns dragged me right into the story. I loved the author’s style of writing – fast, vivid and so tense, especially towards the end where the novel was simply breath-taking. Because the author’s writing was so engaging and the mystery so fascinating, I did find myself guessing and second-guessing the whodunit and one other little twist which meant eventually I did get it right, and before the reveal. Having said that, I don’t think the book is predictable in the least (or that I’m just brilliant at working them out because I’m not), but instead it was thanks to Alison’s hints and clever plot development that I became engrossed to the level that I really had to know the truth as quickly as possible.

When girls of Violet’s age are disappearing and eventually found out to have been murdered, the reader is aware of the two main suspects – Beau (Violet’s new mysterious rocker boyfriend) and Joseph (Violet’s brother, who has returned to the family after disappearing years previously and being feared dead). I loved trying to work both characters out. Neither seemed trustworthy to me as the reader but purely from Violet’s perspective, she may have believed in Beau but she didn’t trust Joseph one bit. I found it interesting to see whether Violet’s instincts were going to be right and at the same time also liked how the story then develops so we can really get to know both the suspects and come up with our own conclusions about them.

Another aspect I really enjoyed about V for Violet was its location and the time it was set in. Opening in the early 1960s in London, without being an overpoweringly historical novel, the time and place is built clearly and vividly and Alison represented life in those times well – the judgements and representation of people, the money and its value, the battle with phone boxes… The story of this book was perfectly suited for the time and its setting.

The last fifty or so pages of this novel had me reading from the edge of my seat. It was exciting and tense, really addictive reading and I was desperate to learn how things were going to turn out in the aftermath. V for Violet is the first book of Alison Rattle’s that I have read but I really can’t wait to get my hands on some more. This was a fantastic, twisty page-turner of a read.

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