The debut novel by Laura Wake is a gritty to the bones drama about a young girl, the eponymous heroine who we follow on a week in her life.
Violet has abducted her best friend's baby, Maria. Her friend is an addict and the child would likely have died in her care, so doing what she thinks is best for the child and perhaps hopeful of starting afresh herself, Violet takes the child and withdraws what money she has in her account and heads for the Isle of Wight.
We follow Violet as she becomes a born again person doting on Maria and her feeds, looking after her and realising that she has to leave the temptations of drugs and addiction behind if she is too care for the child.
Violet thinks she can have the best of both worlds taking Maria to a house party that goes wrong when a snake is thrown into the mix and she has sexual contact with some other girl's boyfriend.
These dark episodes are merely the lead narrative, running parallel is the flashback to Violet as a ten year old and how she become a troubled teen and young adult; her home life is good but following the cot death of her younger brother she starts to rebel and her parents marriage hits the rocks. There is also the unsettling storyline of a female teacher attempting to make Violet good again, which could have been construed as grooming in another plot.
However, Wake is better when following Violet and Maria on their journey around IoW yet the novel does somewhat lose its way nearer the novel's conclusion when they abscond a boat and head for France with a Portugese waiter, Sergio for company. On the boat, Violet's demons come to the fore and her paranoia regarding being possibly followed nearer brings down here downfall.
The book has good moments, especially as you see Violet becoming more maternal and the blossoming friendship between her and Sergio is nicely handled; yet the flashback storyline is dropped somewhat abruptly and does not fully explain her addictive future nor what her relationship with her parents is.
Some critics feel she is an abhorrent lead character, I think of her as reminiscent of the lead character Lily, Agyness Deyn played in the little seen film Electricity. A smart girl who has her own mental demons to overcome, and is lost in the big bad world and is always attempting to run away from it.
A Monster By Violet is out now from Urbane Publications