Review: Scott Thomas' Violet
** spoiler alert ** I've had this on my TBR for a while, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it available on Libby through the local library. With a few days left in the year and some free time for the holidays, I picked up Violet and quickly got lost in Thomas' world of spirits and grief.
I liked so much about Violet, which was an interesting spin on the haunted house genre. As we come to find out, it's not the house itself that's haunted: it's the town. It's the people. It's the grief and hardship and cruelties of human nature manifesting into an unnamed, spurned spirit.
Krissy wants to help her daughter. I related to that more than any other aspect of the book. A mother's struggle to find the answers for her child. That hit me right in the mom-gut. In spite of her best efforts, Krissy is unable to combat the devastation eating away at Sadie's soul following the sudden death of her father.
But we aren't supposed to trust or like Krissy, at least not completely. She's self medicating and hears voices. She drinks too much, has few viable friendships outside her assistant, and ignores all advice to listen to her "gut instinct" telling her to take her daughter to the abandoned, dilapidated lake house where she watched her mother die from cancer.
When Sadie begins talking to an imaginary friend, Krissy's concerns grow, and she finds herself in the midst of remembering a blocked chunk of time from her own childhood under similar circumstances while also investigating the mysterious disappearances of young girls from the dying town.
It's a lot, but when you're reading it, the strands blend nicely together, forming a patchwork story of a woman haunted by her unknown past and the lengths she'll go in order to save her daughter from a horrendous fate.
There were so many creepy elements that I found terrifying in Thomas' Violet. The imagery alone was superb. I can't shake the visual of the little girl hiding until she passes and the bees taking over her corpse. That's a whole lot of nope in my book--but the best kind.
And while it's--slightly--overdone in recent years, the concept of an underwater town worked well here. There are several small lake towns surrounding my area and it was so easy to relate to the deserted, empty, on the cusp of extinction atmosphere Thomas creates.
I've never been able to recover from Stephen King's Pet Sematary scene where Rachel leaves her sick sister crying out in the back bedroom--and Thomas does something similar with Krissy and her mother. I don't know why we haven't seen more of this, because it is truly terrifying and heartbreaking. I also LOVED the effect Violet had on Sadie. The Blackbird song, the maniacal laugh, the hidden tea party--the descriptions were cinematic and unnerving. I could read this all day.
If I was left wanting anything, it was less of using Krissy's memory block as a crutch to move the plot forward. These gaps were used a little too frequently and became more of a shock factor trope than I wanted it to. We can't trust Krissy because Krissy doesn't completely trust herself, and she doesn't trust herself because she can't remember everything and hears voices. Eh. I wanted more. But it didn't keep me from really liking the majority of the story, and I finished the book in just a few sittings.
Entertaining and spooky, Violet is a winner.