06 January, 2011

The Vespertine - Review

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell 
Publication date: 7 March, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Books
ISBN 10/13: 0547482477 / 9780547482477 

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Netgalley e-ARC (will be available in hardcover)
Keywords: Premonitions, Fantasy, Romance, Historical

From goodreads.com

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. 

How I found out about this book: I read Saundra Mitchell's Shadowed Summer last year and didn't quite like it; I think I was just kind of burned out on Southern Gothic at the time. But when I saw Vespertine up for grabs at Netgalley, I jumped on it--and was gratified when the insides lived up to the gorgeous cover :) 

My review: During a very busy holiday week I tried desperately to stay awake through the night to finish this in one sitting--it actually took me three or four nights--but I can still give it my *stay up all night* rating because the desire to finish the book before dawn was definitely there. I was this close to taping my eyelids open. 

Not only is Mitchell's tale a tantalizing mix of old and new; her prose at times verges on poetry. Some lines just beg to be read out loud: "A crimson beam streaked across my face, a rosy sunset full of wine hues, extraordinary to admire but different from the usual gold that tempted my sight." Her talent for Amelia's voice transports the reader from their mundane milieu to the society ballrooms of Baltimore and Annapolis in 1889, and through the mists, into the burning visions that tempt and plague her at sunset. 

I couldn't turn the pages fast enough--part of me wanted to savor each word and every tasty turn of phrase ("Moments later when we heard Thomas' voice, Zora and I nearly broke a neck apiece in our attempt to get to the hallway")--but the rest of me wanted desperately to know the ending, to see into the future, so to speak. 

Who should read this book: I'd recommend this to everyone, even younger YA readers (the age that I balk at giving House of Night books to) who might not get all of lofty vocabulary--and luckily, the publisher also has an educator resource guide to help with comprehension. Fans of historical romance and mystery will find this a satisfying, scintillating read.

The Vespertine is Saundra Mitchell's 2nd novel. 

Find the author at saundramitchell.com, on Twitter @saundramitchell 

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/rnslVespers

Find this book on goodreads.com, or pre-order it for March.

Comments? What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)

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