Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ARC Review: The Vespertine

The Vespertine by Saudra Mitchell
Release Date: March 07, 2011
Published by: Harcourt Children's Books

Pages: 293, Hardcover
Young Adult
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Overall: 5 stars- Flippin' Fabulous!

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:

I think there is something so magical and romantic about YA historical stories when the characters speak and act accordingly to their time.  There's something about corsets, courting and the sinful thoughts of young women, and the objects of their affection that ropes me and makes me otherwise useless to the world.

Saundra Mitchell brought to us everything I look for in a historical setting and story.  She brilliantly painted a world that I could see as I played the part as the hidden guest as she unfolded a tale about a forbidden romance between two young equally mysterious individuals, Amelia van den Broek, a girl already facing misplacement in her chaotic world, and Nathaniel, an artist which is considered beneath her and an unsuitable beau.

There wasn't anything I didn't like about any of the characters I met on Amelia's journey.  The characters, their dialog and their stories all played accurate to the year 1889, and kept me hanging onto their every whim.

I loved how Amelia saw the world, she wasn't stuck on herself, nor did she think she was willing to succumb to the social standards in which she was expected adhere to.  She seemed pretty normal with worries and strengths, hopes and dreams.  Her instant friendship with Zora is believeable and they happen to balance out each other and the story, when one is haughty the other absorbs the energy around her and when one needs a pick-me-up the other is there to reassure and hold her.  More so, while Zora is willing to conform to societies rules for courting, Amelia finds herself unable to conform setting the tone for a story, pulling us both ways, excited and anxious all at once.  When out from under her brother's thumb she allows herself to grow into the young woman she strives to be and not hide the unexplainable talent she possesses. Unfortunately, it is that talent which can be the reason for the burden and guilt she bears.

Nathaniel and Thomas were much like Amelia and Zora in relations to their thoughts on social status and life.  Just as Amelia and Zora were the same, so were Nathaniel and Thomas.  Just as Amelia and Zora were opposites, so were the guys.  Both guys held an air of mysteriousness to them and their intentions, especially the rather smooth and secret Nathaniel.  Like Amelia, Nathaniel possesses a talent, one equally as unexplainable and one even more hidden from the world.

Saundra Mitchell roped me in within the first few pages.  I thought perhaps I had only read a few and was surprised when my nook told me it had been 24.  Her writing was stunning and addictive.  Then there was one line in the story that my throat began constricting and the tears threatened to spill over because of its weight and its truth.  One line was all it took.  Hook, Line, and Sinker.
"Am I with you there?"

When you read that line, you'll know what I mean.  One thing I did notice. once I really thought about it, was the plot didn't seem thick in this book but it didn't take away from my complete love for the story or how I never stopped wanting more.  There was a plot, and subplots, but the mysteries this book opened were subtle and instead of searching for answers I enjoyed the tale I was escorted on.

Just as Amelia is drawn to the enigmatic Nathaniel, I fell in love.  Saundra Mitchell weaved a hauntingly extraordinary and sinful tale of love and the unexplainable magic instilled in life, magic which adds to the fairytale every girl wants and magic which turns into your deepest nightmares.  With a wonderful conclusion, I couldn't have asked for me out of this story.  Once I started there was absolutely no letting go.

Cover: 5

On the cover:  Like the one line that hooked me and tested my emotions and investment into this story, this scene on the cover was even more brilliantly painted in the book.  It couldn't be more fitting and I think it great representation on what you are getting when you read this book.



  1. Once the book was done I noticed the plot too, but it didn't bother me at all! Loved this book! Great review!

  2. I adored this book, and SHADOWED SUMMER, Saundra's debut novel. She could teach a master class on voice!


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