Release Date: March 7, 2011
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Review Source: NetGalley for honest review
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
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.
I fell into this story quickly, appreciating it mainly as a historical novel, with rich details described in flowing prose. The paranormal aspect of the story isn’t immediately evident, which I actually liked. The book is about the extraordinary gift that Amelia has, but it is also about her life in Baltimore as she tries to find a husband. As I’ve previously mentioned, I like books where the paranormal aspect isn’t the only driving force behind the book, and this seems to be the case for ‘The Vespertine’. However, without sounding contradictory, as much as I appreciate paranormal elements being the background of a story, I would have liked some more speculation about where Amelia’s gift came from, or how it connected with Nathaniel’s.
I found Amelia to be generally likable; she was actually quite a refreshing character, as I thought she actually could have been from the late 19th century, instead of being a totally modern minded protagonist like a lot of historical novels feature. The novel centres around the relationship between Amelia and Nathaniel, a man too low socially to be considered for marriage, but who Amelia immediately adores. I usually hate books that contain love/obsession at first sight, and it did bother me a bit in this book, but not as much as usual. Perhaps because of the historical time period I could understand the relationship progressing so quickly.
While I didn’t love ‘The Vespertine,’ I did enjoy it, and I think most fans of historical and paranormal YA would appreciate what it has to offer. The novel has a sequel coming out next year, and while there are some questions left unanswered (like some that I mentioned above), the ending is satisfying enough for those who don’t like to get bogged down in series. Overall, I would definitely recommend this one, especially for the lovely gothic feel that the atmospheric prose brings about.
Find The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca