Today I’m on the blog tour for a book that has decided being set in one country isn’t enough, it wants to do a bit of travelling by train, which, in my opinion, is the best way to travel. Many thanks to Random Things Tour and Orenda Books for having me on the tour.
Blurb: 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…
My Review: So, as I’ve already said, I think train travel is the best way to travel, especially if you are taking in a new country or covering a long distance. This would always be my choice where possible so when I heard about this book, particularly with it being set on the Trans-Siberian Express and covering countries that tend not to be in books that often, I was intrigued.
I have to apologise in advance too, if this review is a bit rambly but I don’t know how best to word my feelings about this book. The story is told through Violet, it’s her perspective we get all the way through which I liked. I spent the entire book not being sure what to make of Violet. There were times when I felt I understood her as I’m not an extrovert and she didn’t come across as one either, but there were other times when it was clear that what she thought was happening, how people felt and behaved, wasn’t quite accurate. There’s a lot of drinking and drugs taken in the story by both Violet and Carrie and there were times, probably the majority of the story, where I felt I was joining in with this because I didn’t know what was going on, there was so much missing information; as there would be if you were in Violet’s shoes because clearly none of us are mind readers and can ever truly know the person we are with and what they are thinking. I loved the descriptions of the train, the characters and the places they stopped off at, all of these were really clear and I could follow the story but because of the way it was told I felt confused and floundering a lot of the time which was definitely an unusual reading experience for me. I have to admit I am genuinely pleased I read this at home rather than in an unfamiliar place because that would have just been too much on top of everything else.
I’m not complaining about the reading experience, I’m trying to make it clear that I’m not, but it was so unusual and all-encompassing that that’s what I’m writing about. There was something quite freeing about reading a story where I wasn’t sure if the characters were who they said they were, didn’t know what they were doing and couldn’t remember what happened half the time, added to that you have the travel and new destinations that the story took me to and the whole thing was indescribable. I was so glad I wasn’t there, and I think this story has put me off ever offering a spare ticket (should I ever have one) to a complete stranger, I think I’d rather not take the risk…….
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.
Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and
adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.