Hardcover, 454 pages
Summary from book: Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly violet dresses, Hanna’s tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas, in search of a new home.
But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.
When I sat down to read Bleeding Violet, I really wanted to like the book, but then again that’s true for every book I read (have you ever started a book thinking, I really want to dislike this book?). From the summary, I was expecting a Morganville Vampires like setting, with Hanna being something of a Buffy-like character. What I didn’t expect was the crazy journey that was Bleeding Violet. I put the book down a few times; some of the scenes were a bit gruesome for me. Each time I would shut the book and walk away. However, it was always at the back of my mind. So, I kept going back to read a little more and then before I knew it, the story was finished. I’m still processing it, thinking about the different parts of the story, the characters and their relationships. Still thinking about a book a few days after reading it is a good thing, better than forgetting about it (I think so, at least).
Hanna arrives in Portero, Texas in search of her mother, Rosalee. When we meet Hanna, she is talking to her father, who has been dead for a year, a hallucination only she can see and hear. We soon find out that she is bipolar or manic depressive, as she prefers to be labeled, and possibly schizophrenic. In many ways this makes Hanna better equipped to deal with the strangeness of Portero. Rosalee does not want her to stay and does many things to get Hanna to leave. After making a bargain, that if Hanna doesn’t fit in and make friends in two weeks she would leave, Rosalee allows her to stay.
At school, Hanna learns about what makes Portero different from other towns and why Rosalee and everyone else do not think she will last even a week. Transients or “transies,” as newcomers are called, don’t usually last that long in Portero. Portero is full of hungry demon-like things and hidden doors to other worlds. Everyone wears black to blend in, except for the green clad Mortmaine (the town protectors) and Hanna in her purple morning wardrobe. Hanna also meets Wyatt, an initiate Mortmaine. He tries hard to balance his Mortmaine responsibilities with being a teenager dealing with school and girls. Hanna and Wyatt soon get together and have quite a steamy relationship. Hanna gets Wyatt to take her on a hunt, something usually only Mortmain do, so that she can win Rosalee’s approval and love by showing her that she can fit it and take care of herself. Soon, Hanna finds that she must help Rosalee fight some personal demons and do everything in her power to save her.
The characters are what really drew me into the story. Dia Reeves knows how to write well thought-out, well developed characters. Despite her manic depression and possible schizophrenia, Hanna deals well with the craziness in Portero. She takes everything as it comes and is willing to go the extra mile for the people she loves. While Hanna does everything she can to get close to her mother, Rosalee is a solitary person. At the beginning, she has only one chair at the kitchen table, it is obvious she does not want to let anyone into her life. As the story progresses we find out why she is that way (sorry, it’s too spoilerific to mention here). But, she finds her own little ways of showing Hanna that she cares. Wyatt is the bridge between Hanna and her new life in Portero as he is the first one to accept her, flaws and all. He knows that he must fulfill his duty as a Mortmaine; at the same time he is willing to bend some of the rules, especially for Hanna. Each of their story arcs is complete and well executed.
Overall, Bleeding Violet is a good book. I’m still not quite sure what I think. Maybe with a some discussion, it will be more clear. *With its gruesome scenes, profanity, and sexual references it is definitely for the older YA reader (15 and above).*