Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publication Date: 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.

(Courtesy of Goodreads)
Historical Fiction isn't really my thing. I maybe like a third of the books I read in the genre, but for whatever reason, this book called to me. Maybe it was the paranormal element to the story, or maybe it was just the pretty cover, but I am so glad I picked it up. It was very good.

Having never read any of Mitchell's books, I didn't know what to expect. What I did know was that Carrie Ryan gave this book rave reviews, and that alone told me it was worth reading. Now, having read this, I will definitely check out her other books. I mean, wow! Her writing style is nothing short of beautiful. I'm not even remotely the sappy, romantic type, but Mitchell's writing made me feel that way. I felt Amelia's confusion and longing for what she knew she could not have. I felt her forbidden exhilaration when she did something that she knew wasn't up to the standards of her circle. I felt like I too was friends with Zora, her best friend and cousin. In short, Mitchell made these characters come out of the pages with her words. As for the story itself, it was great. I have to admit that while I was intrigued at the beginning, I was also a bit confused. I didn't pay enough attention to the dates at the beginning of each section. (Make sure you do so that you can avoid the same pitfall...) Once I caught on, I couldn't put the book down. I had to know what vision Amelia would see next, and how it would manifest. I also was very eager to know what would happen next in regard to Nathaniel. I liked the way Mitchell ended the book. While I still had questions about the fates of some characters, I felt like she resolved things well for the main ones. I know there is another book coming out next year, but I believe it is a companion, rather than than a sequel.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Grade Level Recommendation: This novel is squeaky clean as far as language, violence, and sex are concerned. I would allow a kid of any age read this. That said, I think most readers under the age of 13 or 14 will not find it interesting. For this reason I will say that this is a book for grades 8+ (ages 13+).


  1. I want to read this one SO FREAKING BAD!

  2. great review! and no spoilers either! great job :) looking forward to reading the vespertine...

    Diana @The Lovely Getaway


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