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Young Adult Fiction 514
Another stunning fantasy by Margaret Rogerson
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The mission of the Gray Sisters is to cleanse the bodies of the dead to prevent their souls from turning into terrifying spirits. Artemisia may not win any award for most friends at the convent where she trains to become such a sister, but she at least knows she's good at what she's learning. When her convent is unexpectedly attacked, she must defend her home using a saint's relic that holds one of the most powerful spirits. Thus begins a long journey of Artemisia trying to figure out who was behind that attack and those that follow, all while trying not to become possessed by the spirit she was never supposed to carry at her stage of training, a spirit that could betray her at any moment.

VESPERTINE has all the rich trademarks of a Margaret Rogerson fantasy: incredible world-building, a protagonist with a spine of steel, sharp dialogue full of banter, and gorgeous writing. In this story, Artemisia has experienced significant trauma, both in her past and through what she currently faces. Though she exists in a world with unique magic, her character arc is very grounded in a familiar reality for readers who have experienced their own traumas. She has guarded her heart closely and felt alone for so long that when potential friendships and bonds arise, she doesn't quite know how to recognize it. She can be stubborn and judgmental, but once she starts to realize initial impressions aren't always right, she opens up little by little, all in the middle of epic battles, a deadly mystery, and more.

While Rogerson's prior YA fantasies were standalones, VESPERTINE is the first in a series. Rogerson makes the transition from standalone to series seem effortless as one portion of the story is concluded but many mysteries remain for the sequel. Readers who enjoy the works of Holly Black, Robin LaFevers, and CJ Redwine are sure to find another favorite author in Margaret Rogerson.
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