15 November 2011

Review: The Vespertine

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
Publication Date: March 7, 2011
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

Before I start with the review, how gorgeous is this cover? LOVE.

I didn't know what I was getting into when I read The Vespertine. I knew it was a paranormal/historical fiction book, but that was it. When I got into work one day it was sitting on the counter with my name on it and I don't ask questions when a book has my name on it, so I picked it up. I was pleasantly surprised!

Remember back in the 1800s when the word "dash" was a bad word? Only me? Am I the only immortal blogger on the internet? Or maybe I just felt like I was there. I can't tell the difference anymore, because Saundra Mitchell did such a great job of setting the scene for a Baltimore in 1889. While reading The Vespertine I could visually see and hear everything that was happening. LOVE (again). Another great aspect of the book is the narrator and main character, Amelia. She is witty and smart, but is also still very much a true Victorian young woman of the time. Does that make sense? I also enjoyed her interactions with her cousin Zora and Nathaniel. Amelia and Zora develop a really strong friendship and Nathaniel...oh, Nathaniel, how do I compare thee...? You remain a mystery but yet I still want your body *cough cough*, I mean, I want to know more about you.

Speaking of mystery, the only problem I had with the book is that it leaves the reader with a lot of questions, a lot of what and why. Where do these powers come from? Who exactly is Nathaniel? I don't necessarily feel that the paranormal aspect of the book should have been front and center, but I would have liked some more explanation(s). I'm hoping that this is because these questions will be answered in the third book, which does not have a synopsis or title yet (it comes out in 2013), so I have put together a title for Mitchell just in case she doesn't have one. The plot, obviously, comes with it:

Everything You Wanted to Know About Nathaniel (and Amelia Too, I Guess...) (Vespertine #3)

I've seen some reviewers talking about how all the characters seemed so accepting of Amelia's ability, but it didn't bother me at all. Victorian America was an era of mystics, spiritualists, and magic. Everyone was curious about it, so if it turns out that they have a friend who can see the future, awesome! And for free? Even more awesome! Or that's how I, at least, read it.

On a final note, The Vespertine isn't a book of action and it's not fast-paced. In fact, I would say the first two-thirds of the book is mainly set-up and not a lot happens until the end. I didn't care, though, because the author's dialogue and description were enough to keep me entertained until the final "BAM" moment.


  1. I've been really looking forward to reading this one but for some reason keep pushing it down on the TBR list. From your review, it sounds like this is a fabulous journey into late 19th century America, which I LOVE. Guess I'll have to pick it up soon. :) Great review.

  2. Thanks! I think it's worth a read, especially if you already have it.

  3. I haven't been much of a historical fan, but I recently read a historical/paranormal and it converted me a little. So considering this is in that same genre and your review has me intrigued, I may just pick this one after all. Thanks for sharing :0)

  4. Great review. I want to give it a read, but I am not too good at hanging out for things to pick up. We'll see. I featured the cover artist in Shelf Candy several weeks ago. It is so beautiful.


Thank-you for commenting! I always appreciate and read each one! I also try to reply to each one, but I'm really bad at this, so I apologize in advance for one (or any) I may miss. Please note, I love all of my commenters. In fact, it may be more like "in love." Comment at your own risk.