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. But 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.
It takes a certain kind of writer to affect me in such a way. Saundra Mitchell not only transports you to another place and time in story, but in writing as well. She holds herself to the high standard of classic literary style, yet uses a tone that modern readers can step right into. I have yet to find its equal in the modern YA section.
The Vespertine is sensual and seductive, and keeps you turning the page, longing to find out Nathaniel's secrets. Just when he turns up on the page, it seems he's gone again, teasing the reader (and Amelia) with a single gaze or a brush of his hand. You can't help wanting more.
Although late 1800's New England is an entirely different culture than ours today, teens will be fascinated by the propriety and traditions, and will certainly be thankful of the freedoms and liberties we so often take for granted in this modern age. The stringent rules of society must have been exhausting to keep up with, when simply hugging a friend of the opposite sex would have caused rumors to catch fire, and so on.
The Vespertine has what most classic historical romances do not -- a twist of paranormal. We've seen countless stories where couples are forbidden to be together due to differences in social status. In these stories, it's their love that transcends the differing social classes. But what if you were connected to someone of a lower class on a level even deeper than love? What if you connected in a psychic and spiritual realm, one where classes do not exist?
Mitchell explores all that and more in The Vespertine. Fans of classic romance and modern YA paranormal should pick this one up today.
This wasn't a bad book, but it just didn't click with me and ultimately, it's forgettable.
Amelia is staying in Baltimore with family for the spring. She's supposed to be finding marriage opportunities and courting, as well as be in society. But a discovery of a new talent changes things. Amelia has the ability to tell the future and soon others flock to hear their future told, but things get worse when her abilities foretell horrible events. Also, Amelia is falling in love, but with someone who is forbidden to her.
This book begins in the fall of 1889, with Amelia "ruined" and it references events and people vaguely, which is confusing. Then it jumps backwards to the spring, telling the events leading up to the fall. From the beginning, you know that something bad will happen to cause Amelia to be in a dark place. It was very interesting knowing this and it make me read the book with dread. Some parts were very well-done, but I felt like the lead-up was sometimes slow and I was very vague and Amelia's abilities because sometimes I felt like they were passed over too quickly. The ending was well-done and connected nicely to the beginning, but the rest was a bit slow.
I do think the setting and characters were well-done. The historical setting was very well researched! The setting felt completely real, even with the magical elements. The characters were also nice. I liked Amelia and Zora's friendship (even though they're related, they acted like great friends). I also liked their other friendships, though those weren't as strong. Zora and Thomas's relationship was also a great one.
My main problem with this book was the romance. It's insta-love. Amelia falls for Nathaniel when she firsts sees him, they don't even really talk! Also, the romance didn't feel like it was very well-developed, the same for Nathaniel's character. Really, if it weren't for the romance, I would have given this book a higher rating.
Overall, I'm pretty 'meh' on this book. The setting and characters are well-done, ut while the premise is interesting, I felt like I didn't really get to see and understand Amelia's abilities very well. The main downfall, though, was the romance, which is the dreaded insta-love. I actually do plan on reading the sequel. It's from the perspective of a different character, so there may not be insta-love in that one!
For instance, the opening chapter is pretty astounding. Amelia is shut up in a room for having brought shame upon herself and the family. Locked up by her own family. With that and the period piece element, I was thinking back on Wildthorn, although the books really are quite different. This chapter grabs the reader's attention and takes a powerful hold. You want to know all the gritty and dirty details about what Amelia has done. But that atmosphere never really comes back again.
What bugged me the most was how much like a trashy romance novel the story was at times (okay, only when Amelia is with her boy). Seriously, the dialog and descriptions would not be out of place in the latest Judith McNaught book. Plus, I never really got to liking Nathaniel (that's his name). Or mostly I just couldn't take him seriously, because he's such a stereotypical flirty bad boy leading her down a bad path in his introduction. Then, you get a description of him on a usual day: "His coat was cut in green and gold tartan, and he'd pinned the pocket with a nosegay of tangerine silk" (73). Yikes! That's some color combo.
The Vespertine makes a nice change from some of the more typical teen fare. Some important issues are brought up, along with magic, love, romance and ruination. Not for everyone, but some will enjoy this late nineteenth century romp.