Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Vespertine

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Thanks to for the early look at this book.


Amelia is a seventeen year old young lady from Broken Tooth, Maine. It’s the summer of 1889 and she has traveled to the city of Baltimore to stay with Zora, her cousin. She’s come to find a husband, a proper marriage for a young lady. In the formal etiquette of the time, the two cousins enjoy dances and prospects indeed but Amelia starts seeing visions in the dusk light, visions that are coming true. Soon everyone wants her to visit them and tell their future. Through it all, Amelia is drawn to the very mysterious Nathaniel. An artist, Nathaniel has no respectable rank that would allow him to approach Amelia to court. Nevertheless, Amelia is drawn to him and him to her. When Amelia’s visions turn dark, the excited citizens of Baltimore are convinced that she is causing the events she sees to happen.

My thoughts:

The story was intriguing. I really liked the premise. The paranormal twist to the eighteenth century setting was promising but I struggled with the writing of this book. Saundra Mitchell is painting a story with her brush strokes of words. She rarely describes but instead paints. This may have been my problem. I frequently had to go back and read and reread until I was sure what she was saying. That frustrated me some but I did like her attempts to write as the times would be. It just wasn’t my thing. I probably could look past that if other things didn’t bother me.

The story starts in the autumn of 1889 and then flashes back to the summer. We know immediately that something has gone wrong over the summer and that Amelia has been sent back to her brother in disgrace. These times in the present are short and frustrating because there is a bitter and angry Amelia who offers hints of what happened but nothing that adds to the story. Unfortunately, it distracts from the story. I like to figure things out and make predictions about what will happen in the story as I read. It’s my job as the reader to do this but too much of it was done by the author. The hints were entirely too big. So then we went back to the summer scenes, it was too easy to piece things together. Another characteristic of the writing that caused the same problem was her use of telling us when something important just happened. There was always some foreshadowing comment about how this would come back to haunt her or how she could never forget this simple little thing. It drove me crazy. I want to figure those things out for myself not have the author tell me, oh this is important remember it.

Then there was the lack of Nathaniel. He was the most interesting character in the book and the reason I finished reading it. (It took me much longer to plow through this than it normally would). Nathaniel was mysterious. No foreshadowing comments about him! I wanted so much to get to know him better but he just wasn’t a big part of the story. He turned up at important times and Amelia pined after him but did little about it. Maybe I am too used to modern girls who wouldn’t let social standards keep them from the guy they liked but it was tiresome to watch Amelia do little to be around him.

If you are a big historical novel reader then you will like this book. If you are a modern paranormal reader, you might want to skip this one unless you TBR list is really short.

Enjoy the read!

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