I started reading this book because it is partly set in Belgium and written by a professional writer/editor who lives in Belgium; as another writer/editor resident in that country, I felt an immediate affinity.
I enjoyed reading a book set in a familiar place, but I also found myself increasingly enjoying the book for itself.
It probably qualifies as contemporary, low fantasy, with the fantasy aspect (magical realism) handled lightly, without it dominating the story… let’s say it adds ‘une certaine légèreté” – and humour – and moves the plot along nicely.
One of the main characters is Maximus Biggs-Dickson, surely, SURELY based on Boris Johnson? Although I imagine Brussels has more than its fair share of regular visitors who are both aspiring political figures AND complete wankers, so he may well be based on an acquaintance of the author. I guess she’ll keep that under her hat. The other characters are all considerably more appealing (even the wicked stepmother) than Mr B-D.
Mr B-D is pushing a ‘Back to Great Britannia’ campaign, purely for egocentric reasons, and a Belgian journalist is plotting his come-uppance. In parallel, the aforementioned wicked stepmother is plotting to get rid of her unwanted stepson. Violet, the eponymous shade, is providing a helping hand, or rather a gentle nudge, so that good prevails over evil.
The two plot lines don’t really come together, but it hardly matters. The novel is for entertainment, and succeeds very well. Overall, it’s about women taking back control of their lives and punishment for evildoing.
The two main characters, Callum and Erin, are a sweet duo and there’s plenty of scope for further adventures. I’d read a sequel, definitely.
It’s no doubt clear by now that this Shade of Violet is not high literature. It’s a bit of escapist fun. However, it’s also a well written and well structured novel with interesting, rounded characters. I could see this author going from strength to strength. In short, it’s a good yarn, skillfully written and well worth a read.
My thanks to Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book. All my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.
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