Violet by S.J.I. Holliday

Review for THE Book Club Reviewer Request Group


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 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 …

Stranger. Best Friend. Liar.

My review

Violet and Carrie meet in Beijing while they’re both travelling. Violet is alone after splitting up from her boyfriend, Sam, in Bangkok after he decided he just wanted to carry on partying and drinking. Carrie’s friend, Laura, was due to travel with her but had to drop out after breaking her leg.

Carrie has a spare ticket for the Trans-Siberian Express and Violet needs one. It seems like a great coincidence and the women get on really well, at first …

With slightly menacing undertones and hints that all is not as it seems, we’re drawn into the dark and rather reckless side of travelling as Violet and Carrie take risks and drink too much, eat too little, take dodgy drugs, have seedy sexual encounters, and don’t wash enough!

Violet is the main protagonist of the story and we hear her side of the story, interspersed with emails, mainly between Carrie and her friend, Laura.

From the beginning, there are clues that this isn’t your average backpacking story and that both Violet and Carrie are hiding things. Carrie seems to be very trusting and rather gullible. I don’t think I’d trust either of the women – there was something off and dark about both of them!

I really enjoyed this book; the author did an amazing job of making me feel like I was there with Violet and Carrie. It was such a claustrophobic, dangerous, disturbing environment at times and I was caught up with their lies and adventures and felt like I was involved and living everything too! It was also really interesting to find out more about the places they visited and the cultural experiences they had.

It was a very intense and absorbing book and the writing was very descriptive and engaging. I’d definitely recommend this one! I’ve got The Lingering on my Kindle so will be starting that soon, and checking out the rest of Susi’s books too.

Trans-Siberian Railway

Violet’s travels take her from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar then Irkutsk and Moscow and, finally, she flies to Berlin.

Susi provides a fascinating glimpse of the route that Violet and Carrie took with photos in her blog of the actual journey that she made in 2006, as part of a six-month round-the-world trip. See her blog:

Buy the book

Violet by S.J.I. Holliday can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle now and in paperback on 14 November, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

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.

Twitter: @SJIHolliday


Thanks to THE Book Club Reviewer Request Group on Facebook and Orenda Books for my eBook of Violet.


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