Eight-year-old Sadie has stopped talking since her father suddenly died. Sadie’s mother Kris is struggling too. She has flashbacks to her husband’s gruesome injuries from his fatal car accident. 

In her grief, Kris yearns for the gorgeous lake-side vacation home of her childhood. With a crystal clear vision of mending her daughter’s broken spirits, they move to Pacington, Kansas. 

So begins Scott Thomas’ new novel VIOLET. This is the second book from Thomas, but far from his start in entertainment. Thomas is the author of top horror book Kill Creek, and he has written TV movies and teleplays for a myriad of networks, including Netflix and Syfy.

VIOLET delivers quite the horror story. As the summer begins, Kris and Sadie pack their belongings. What they discover is nothing like what Kris remembers from her halcyon childhood. The house is rotting away. Dilapidated. And although she is determined to fix the house up, Kris encounters startling memories around each corner. 

Secrets are everywhere, too as Kris and Sadie discover. From the quirky locals to the lake itself, Kris feels danger breathing down her neck. 

After a few weeks, although Sadie seems to get better, she suddenly begins having conversations with herself. Kris feels as if she’s being watched. The terror begins as secrets about Kris’ childhood resurface. 

The novel portrays the anxiety and tension Kris feels as she battles her inner demons. We get inside Kris’ head to hear her desires to better herself and her child by repairing her family’s home. Kris describes her mother’s room as “a quaint space [which] now had a strange, unsettling quality to it.” This also describes the creeping-down-your-spine feeling that VIOLET often leaves the reader feeling.

The story moves with the pace of a sleepy small town, but never leaves the reader uninterested. The cutesy town (with stores with names like “Dairy Godmother” and “You Old Sew and Sew”) has the potential to be treacly, but avoids this with grounded characters. The town builds out like a character itself, slowly revealing more and more about the history as the story progresses. 

Kris is a frank, likable protagonist. Sadie is a bright, charming child, sweet without ever being precocious. Narratives switch between the two. Thomas writes in bright, memorable prose: “the shadow that fell over Pacington, the pain and fear that twisted through the town like a barbed, poisonous vine.”

Around two thirds of the way through the book, the horror aspect of the story begins to pick up. After being lulled by the town’s charm, twists begin to form. I realized around this point that I couldn’t put the book down. For those who love dramas and scary stories, VIOLET is the spine-chilling read you’ve been searching for. VIOLET will be released on September 24, 2019. 

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