Friday, April 15, 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Age: Young Adult
Species: Human (psychic)
Rating: 4.5/5
Interest: 200 in 2001/Historical Romance/paranormal
Source: Net Galley ARC
Date Published: March 7th 2011

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.

The Vespertine is a hauntingly beautiful historical romance flavored with paranormal romance. It is every elegant ballroom fantasy and forbidden romance played out with brushes of scandal and tragedy.

Saundra Mitchell has infused life into her characters and setting to where I feel I can step into this novel instead of observing it. Amelia Van Der Broek was slightly difficult to relate to in regards to customs and propriety standards. It was hard for me to remember that it was considered inappropriate for men and women to be out together at night, kissing was a secret and forbidden act, and women's reputations were ruined at the drop of a hat. However, Amelia and Zora didn't seem confined into their roles as proper young women. They shed their images of propriety as necessary and made no bones about it; which excites me because Amelia and Zora seem more human and real this way.

For once there was not a love triangle! I was so happy that two strong male characters didn't need to fight over Amelia like two dogs playing tug of war with a bone. It was refreshing to see that particular problem missing from a teen romance. Amelia had so much to deal with already, I don't think she could have handled another man set on having her.

Amelia was a little more squeamish than I like for my heroines, but she was no shirking violet. When necessary, she was willing to do whatever she had to do for herself, friends, or others. Her guilt over her predictions was a little severe at certain points however she usually snapped out of it quickly. Zora, oh I loved her so much! She was very bright, cheerful and completely enamored with doctor in training Thomas Rhea. I wanted her love with Thomas to work out  because she was so happy with him. Even hearing her talk about how much she loved him warmed my heart, it was so sweet and lovely. I am horribly excited to read the rest of her story in The Springsweet (a companion to The Vespertine). I want to see how she fared since the end of the book.

Nathaniel, Amelia's love, was not what I expected. He had genuine affection for Ameila, however their romance feels a little contrived. His sudden appearance, their attraction, their devotion to each other were all very sudden, but felt very genuine. Perhaps if there had been more interactions between the two, I wouldn't feel this way. He was a very mischievous and endearing character. I loved his character by the end of the novel. Thomas, Zora's guy, was more the stereotypical Victorian, honorable, good, romance book leading man. I adored him in spite of his cheesy-ness because he was so good and innocent and really genuine. I just wanted to hug him after everything that happened in the novel.

Another draw of this novel was the danger and issues. The problems in The Vespertine were not exclusively related to her visions, which is amazing. Usually, abilities like telling the future lead to all of the problems in the novel. While Amelia's visions did cause trouble and even tragedy, the dilemmas outside of them were just as compelling as supernaturally powered ones.

The Vespertine is full of emotion and heart from despair over ruination to the joy of a first love. I felt it all. Saundra Mitchell has truly crafted a beautiful world which begs to be opened and explored. I definitely recommend reading this wonderful, exciting, passionate book as soon as possible. I know I'm going to get my hands on a finished copy the minute I can!

Series Order:
1. The Vespertine
2. The Springsweet (Releasing in 2012 in the U.S.)

Two Teaser Lines!

Teaser Lines: "Secretly you're a beast aren't you?"
"There will be time enough for sainthood once I'm married." she said.

Teaser Lines: "The stars could have burned out around us, the moon could have fallen from the sky, and I wouldn't have known it." (This line still gives me chills!)

Happy Reading,


  1. I met Saundra Mitchell at Carrie Ryan's book signing and I was ridiculously nervous! For me, VESTERTINE is my most anticipated release. I can't wait to get my hands on it. So relieved that you think it's worth a read. And, yeah, how refreshing to not have a love triangle. Sarah xx

  2. Really? I really want to meet her after reading this book. I wish more authors came down to Florida. :) Hope you get a copy soon.


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