Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
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.  (Description from
Eventually, I liked this book.  I didn’t love it, but I really liked it.  I especially liked the ending.  It was nice to have a book just finish instead of leaving me there like a gaping fish with my mouth hanging open, waiting for the next book in the series.  It was refreshing actually, to have the book come to an end with enough resolved that I could close it and feel satisfied.

After having said that, I wasn’t really sure that I would get to that point with this book.  The book wasn’t slow to begin, per se, but it took me a while to feel anything for the characters, especially Amelia.  Also, I think the romantic storyline for Amelia was rushed and not really believable.  Yes, I know it was fast in other books (coughtwilightcough) and I not only believed it, I loved it.  Something was different in this book.  I think it was because I never felt as if I knew either character before they are suddenly “in love”.  I think a little more build-up to that would have been nice. 

I loved the supernatural storyline, once it started.  Amelia’s ability to see the future was both mysterious and fun and I found myself wondering what she would see next.  I also liked the other supernatural gift that surfaced in another character and the way it was explained.  That was a lot of fun.

I do think the book did a nice job of capturing the society of the late 1800’s and it was interesting to see the supernatural element play out in an historical setting.  I found that this was so interesting that as the book continued,  I could sort of overlook the author’s oversight in building the relationship part of the story at the beginning.  Sort of.

So, overall, I liked the book and some parts of it I liked a lot.  It’s not a book that I’m going to recommend to perfect strangers in Barnes and Noble (which is something that I’ve been doing with “Unearthly” by Cynthia Hand!) but I enjoyed reading it.

I would have to say that this book is a B- or a B.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

Thanks to and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the advance copy.  You can find out more about this book on its website at:

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