Title: The Violet Veil Mysteries: A Case of Grave Danger
Author: Sophie Cleverly
Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Published: 3rd February 2021
Synopsis: A breakout new detective series, from the author of the spine-tingling SCARLET AND IVY series, beautifully illustrated by Hannah Peck.
Violet Veil wants nothing more than to prove her worth and become her father’s apprentice at Veil & Sons Undertakers. And one rain-soaked night she gets her chance when she meets a boy, Oliver, who is wandering around the graveyard. Only, the last time Violet saw Oliver, he was indoors and very much dead, waiting to be buried. Violet has just found her first case, and it doesn’t get bigger than this: can she, with the help of her dog, Bones, help Oliver solve his own ‘murder’?
Violet Veil has grown up in a mortuary, in Victorian times. Her father is an undertaker, and she wants to become his apprentice, but society has dictated that because she is a girl, she can’t. Her adventures take place in the graveyard behind her home. A young boy, nameless, brought in for burial, has disappeared. Violet finds him alive – in the graveyard and sets out to uncover who tried to kill Oliver. Together, they uncover a sinister plan, several other deaths and find a way to work with the police, even though in the eyes of the adults, they are just children and Violet is just a girl. Can a girl, a boy and a dog called Bones find out what happened and prove the police wrong?
This exciting new series is engaging and informative, presenting a world where gender roles are rigid yet the characters – Violet and Oliver – find ways to break out of these roles whilst still working within what is expected of them. Violet is very clear about her frustrations and goals – and this makes her a very interesting and relatable character. Young readers – all readers – will feel the frustrations of having to do what is expected of them at times rather than what they would prefer to do. Violet is a perfect example of this.
The Victorian setting with the morbid fascination with death, and life in a mortuary, evokes a sense of place, and oozes mystery throughout. It suggests a sense of unease at times, yet through Violet, we are reassured that everything will somehow be okay. She’s full of hope, but also, she is still a child and has very real worries that we can all relate to -losing those we love, not being able to do what we want in life, and she has a quirky and keen sense of adventure and justice that brings her to life. The characters dance off the page and come to life as they traverse a DNA- free world, and a world where only adults and respectable citizens appear to have a voice.
Mysteries driven by detectives or investigators other than the usual police characters is interesting, and a concept that we can have a bit of fun with. Child investigators are a big thing right now, and in a way always have been in all kinds of ways as they uncover secrets and mysteries in their immediate worlds. A child detective can work in any genre or any setting, and the plot will pull everything else together, as the setting and characters around them provide the conflicts and obstacles the main character has to face. This is going to be an intriguing and fun series to follow.
This is the first in a new series, where the child character takes charge, empowering those like Violet who feel they may not have a voice, or a choice in what they can do. It is a fantastic start to a series, and I can’t wait to see where Violet’s adventures take us, and the mysteries she is set to solve with Oliver and Bones in the rest of the series.