About the Book

Title: The Violet Hour (The Violet Hour #1)
Published: 2014
Series: The Violet Hour
Swoonworthy Scale: 1

Cover Story: Smoke Gets in Your Big Face
BFF Charm: Caution!
Talky Talk: Figuratively Speaking
Bonus Factor: Cult
Relationship Status: Memorable Fling That Wants to Come Back for More

Cover Story: Smoke Gets In Your Big Face

A vaguely Asian girl against a vaguely Asian backdrop is accurate in the sense that Katniss Everdeen is a girl who’s good at archery: true, but missing some important deets. And the temple silhouettes remind me of the bun towers at the Cheung Chau Bun Festival. Or maybe I’m just hungry. 

The Deal:

As the daughter of prominent religious organization called VisionCrest, Harlow Wintergreen is traveling through Asia on a publicity tour with fellow VisionCrest elite. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Harlow hears things: a voice in her head that wants her to KILL, HOLY CRAP. Where exactly is that voice coming from? Is Harlow going crazy? And more importantly, how much longer can she suppress that noise? ‘Cause that voice is getting harder and harder to ignore….

BFF Charm: Caution

BFF charm wrapped in yellow "Caution" tape

Look, Harlow could be the greatest person in the history of the world, but the MURDEROUS VOICE IN HER HEAD gives me a heckton of pause. And even though she herself doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid, her dad is—let’s face it—a cult leader (more on that later). Neither of these aspects are within Harlow’s control nor reflective of her personality, but they overshadow EVERYTHING ELSE on her BFF application.

Also not helping her cause is her BFF, Dora: sweet girl, but she kind of annoys me. Obvs, I am a fan and practitioner of goofy words, but Dora’s hyperactive vocabulary is a bit too much for me to handle. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

There’s a lot of history between Harlow and Adam, but he hasn’t been the same since he returned from a mysterious disappearance. Along with his newfound evasiveness, Adam’s looking awfully cozy with mean girl Mercy, and he doesn’t bother to clarify the situation when asked. One thing neither the Backstreet Boys nor I can tolerate is playing games, so Adam really didn’t do it for me at all.

Talky Talk: Figuratively Speaking

Although they help establish the book’s eerie atmosphere, I could have done with fewer similes and metaphors. The suspense and intrigue, on the other hand, are more effective. I had no idea where the story was going, which is why there’s only the one bonus factor. 

I also had no idea that this book is going to have a sequel. As glad as I am for Whitney A. Miller to be making more money, the ending would have been INCREDIBLE for a stand-alone. (The ending is still pretty good for a series book, though.)

Bonus Factor: Cult

Flourishing under the leadership of Harlow’s father for the past 17 years, VisionCrest is been the fastest growing religion in the world. But it’s structured with tiers that are near impossible for most of its followers to achieve, no matter how much time or money they devote to their “spiritual training.” If it walks like a cult and smell like a cult, then it’s a cult-ing cult-y cult

Seeing VisionCrest* through skeptic Harlow doesn’t help convince me otherwise, and having her point out its meteoric rise doesn’t make me less dubious of its all-reaching power. VisionCrest believers account for a quarter of the world’s population; to put that into perspective, Christianity accounts for 33%, Muslim 23%, and non-religious and atheists a combined 12% — meaning a significant portion would actually have to convert to VisionCrest. Given how relatively new VisionCrest is and how powerful of a presence faith can be in peoples’ lives, that number isn’t entirely believable to me (#MathNerd).

*Plus, the name VisionCrest. No self-respecting religion would disregard proper capitalization like that.

Relationship Status: Memorable Fling That Wants to Come Back for More

When this book wined and dined me, it kept me on my toes, although I could spot quirks that would prevent us from being more than a fun fling. But it gave me a heckuva goodbye kiss; in the words of the Big Aristotle (aka Shaq), “it’s not how you start the date, it’s how you finish it.”

I would have been happy had it walked out of my life with that dramatic exit, but now I’ve discovered it’s sticking around like the Sandy to my Danny. I won’t break into song about making our true love last, but I also won’t avoid making eye contact with it like I do with my other exes.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Flux. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. The Violet Hour is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.