Monday, March 7, 2011

The Vespertine

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
Harcourt, 2011
293 pages
YA; Historical; Fantasy
3/5 stars

Source: Received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was pretty excited about this because I do love a good historical fiction.  In summer 1889, Amelia stays with friends in Baltimore and it seems very jaunty due to the many explanation points in the characters' conversations.  Amelia is upper class and able to move through Society but her eye is caught by an unsuitable man, Nathaniel, a painter.  I did not like their romance as I didn't like Nathaniel and thus I did not enjoy this section. This is intercut with chapters from Autumn 1889 that were confusing at first and then later dark.

About two thirds of the way through (or so), the story as a whole turns rather dark.  Dark as in multiple deaths, unexplained magic, and heartbreak although the ending is not unrelentingly bleak in case you were wondering.

There are also paranormal aspects that were rather minor.  Amelia has the ability to see glimpses of the future in the setting sun, through the vespers (I am unsure of how exactly it works).  While at first these visions are hailed, when the darker ones come true, people turn on her.  I feel like the paranormal element was necessary to help this book stand out but I didn't really like it.  On the other hand, I thought the historical elements were pretty well done although this isn't my time period so I can't say for certain.

Overall: Romance I didn't like and change in tone made this a book I didn't really like.  Still fans of historical fiction who don't mind paranormal may appreciate this book.

Read for Ebook challenge.


  1. Great review! I am halfway through this book and I definitely agree on some of the points (I have reached the last third). Now I feel the need to finish the book asap!

  2. Nicely written. :) I agree with you about the romance. I never warmed up to Nathaniel. I liked the darker events toward the end and I loved the historical elements. The romance and paranormal parts didn't work as well for me though.


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