Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts, but they believe in her. Violet has spent years taking part in her mother's elaborately faked seances, putting the rich and powerful in touch with the dead, and their success has brought them a life of luxury they could only have dreamed of and Violet the prospect of a society marriage. The last thing Violet expected was to start seeing and hearing the dead for real. But now she is haunted day and night by the ghost of a drowned girl who won't let her rest until her murderer is uncovered. Violet must use her talents to unravel the mystery surrounding the girl's death, and quickly before the killer strikes again. I really adored this book. I read it over two days stuck at home inside due to rainy, stormy weather. I must say, if you get a chance to read this snuggled up inside in the winter time it will definitely improve your reading experience! It's got romance, it's got ghosts and it's a murder mystery. It is set in 1872 in Victorian England which is a period in history that I'm always fascinated by. Especially the Spiritualist movement which was fashionable at the time. I was reading another book recently which discusses the fascination with death that was part of the culture of the time, and I think Alyxandra Harvey perfectly captures this period in history.
Like all good historical fiction, the details evoke the setting but they don't swamp the story. The clothing, homes, estates, gardens, furniture and food is all perfectly depicted and makes the setting come alive. It's got a bit of the Jane Eyre about it, but also in Violet's character, she's a self reliant young woman who knows her own truth and she is full of integrity, but she's not too strong to fall in love and admit her true feelings. She takes actions that don't necessarily serve herself and she acts to benefit others. All the other characters are also interesting. Elizabeth is Violet's best friend and she is hilarious and brings warmth to the book. Violet's mother is suitably horrid and Colin is a wonderful love interest. The romance is quite chaste which is appropriate for both the setting and the intended audience, but is still swoon-worthy. It's really for readers aged 12 and up, so its character development and some of the plot development is a little less developed than might be expected from a book for older ya's, but for me that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book at all. I found it hard to put down, I was submersed in the story and I was kept guessing about who the murderer was right up until the very end. I haven't read the author's other series, The Drake Chronicles, but I'll definitely be adding them to my list.