Saturday, February 12, 2011

ARC Review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Publication: Harcourt Children's Books (March 7, 2011)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: This was an interesting historical fiction story with some supernatural elements. The story takes place in 1898 and the tone and dialog of the story match the historical feel. 

Amelia is sent from her home in Maine to try to make a good match. She is uncertain about this. She both wants to be a good girl and fulfill society expectations and she wants to be bold and brave and try out new things. This causes some vacillation in her character that is actually pretty normal for most adolescents. When she meets a totally ineligible man, she is drawn to him. She knows that he is not an acceptable match but somehow the two connect.

Nathaniel is an artist who makes money for paint and canvass by acting as a "fourteenth" - because, of course, nothing could be worse than having an odd number of dinner guests. He also has a tendency to show up when Amelia calls.

This was the great age of spiritualists. So, when Amelia starts getting visions in the sunset, she becomes the rage. Unfortunately, not all of the visions are for happy events. She is staying with her cousin Zora and her family. She and Zora become close friends. Zora is actually the bolder of the two and is Amelia's guide to Baltimore society. Her circle of friends, with all their complicated interactions, becomes Amelia's circle of friends too. All the friends and a great many other young ladies begin demanding Amelia see their futures.

While I liked most aspects of this novel, I did have some trouble connecting with the characters because their world view was so different than mine. I think that this is a strength of Ms. Mitchell's writing though. She definitely had the world view of a young woman living in 1898 down cold. This was a moody, atmospheric novel that would appeal to young adults who like historical fiction, romance, and a touch of the supernatural. 

Favorite Quote:
She was bright as any star, and no matter what I was meant to do in Baltimore, I, instead, found myself charting a course between Zora and Nathaniel, duty abandoned for destiny - setting free the little wildness that grew in my heart.


  1. Great review. I've been wondering about this book having seen it all over book blogs. Sounds like I need to be adding it to my wishlist.

  2. I can't wait to read this! I received it for review from NetGalley. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I don't really know much about the spiritualism during this time period but I look forward to reading all about it.

  3. Great review, I did not realize this was a historical fiction. Definitely want to read it now.Thanks!


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