Featured Review: Vespertine (Margaret Rogerson)

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About This Book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a thrilling new YA fantasy about a teen girl with mythic abilities who must defend her world against restless spirits of the dead.

The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

 

 

*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*

VESPERTINE is a riveting, thrilling, and enthralling YA fantasy about humanity, human nature, and sacrifice. Artemisia is a novice in a convent, one of the jobs available to someone who has the Sight. In this world, spirits often rise after death as a ruthless being with power based on the manner of their death. To combat this, those with the Sight, who can see- and also be possessed by- the spirits, are trained to fulfill jobs within the religious-based government built around The Lady, their diety.

Artemisia is one such person, who is content where she is with the Gray Sisters, those who cleanse the bodies of the deceased to prevent them from becoming spirits, and longs to stay away from people in general. However, when possessed soldiers arrive at the convent, Artemisia is handed a task by the head of the Gray Sisters, and in doing so, opens a box with a magical artifact - one containing a revenant, the strongest and most powerful of the spirits - and the most dangerous. As she unleashes its power, making her a vespertine, she loses control of herself and sight of the things she values most. In the struggles that follow, Artemisia is soon to learn humanity is on the line and left to determine her own role in the events to come.

What I loved: This was a consuming and atmospheric read that transports the reader to this magical and dangerous other world. The premise and the plot are tightly constructed with many twists and unexpected turns along the way. This fascinating world raises important themes around politics, religion, benevolent (or not) deities, twisted motives, humanity, and morality. These thought-provoking elements leave readers to consider which actions can be defined as good and who gets to determine the morality of them, as well as the ways in which they can be corrupted or skewed by the audience.

Artemisia is swept into this battle she did not ask for and does not desire, and the consequences change how others view her and what they want from her. The religion to which she ascribes is also interesting in how it relates to the deity the people worship and how the characters interpret signs and the influence in their own lives. There may be an element of choice in fate, but the significance of divine destiny/intervention is a frequent one. There are many questions raised around this worship, the power structures, and the way that it has developed. Between these intriguing topics, the book is certainly one worth pondering further and would make for a great book club pick.

The characters in the book are endlessly compelling, and beyond Artemisia, who is flawed and often seems to be muddling her way through the mantle she carries, there are several side characters who are beautifully constructed and felt so real. Marguerite, Leander, Charles, and Jean are particularly complex and well-developed. I appreciated the depth of their characters and the way that understanding changes how they are viewed by the reader. Some of the other/older nuns were also fascinating, and I would have loved to have spent even more time with them. Additionally, the revenant that is possessing Artemisia becomes one of the most endearing characters, and as she gets to know it, so does the reader, endearing it to them. Through Artemisia's eyes, there are so many the reader will come to love, and the power of the writing is in gaining these insights, understandings, and allowances that bring these characters to life. I'm hoping to see more of all these characters in future books.

The lack of romance was intriguing and not often seen. Notably, it was not missed in this action-filled read. This story is a stand-out with an intriguing and unexpected plot, twists that you don't see coming, and characters that leap off the pages.

Final verdict: With masterful world-building, compelling characters, and thought-provoking themes, VESPERTINE is a stunning and riveting YA fantasy read. Highly recommend for fans of THE MERCIFUL CROW, THE PRISON HEALER, WHAT WE DEVOUR, and DANCE OF THIEVES.

 

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

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