Title: The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Published: March 07, 2011
Page #: 293
Source: My public library
"The summer of 1889 is the one between childhood and womanhood for Amelia van den Broek - and thankfully, she's not spending it at home in rural Maine. She's been sent to Baltimore to stay with her stylish cousin, Zora, who will show her all the pleasures of city life and help her find a suitable man to marry.
With diversions ranging from archery in the park to dazzling balls and hints of forbidden romance, Victorian Baltimore is more exciting than Amelia imagined. 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. Newly dubbed 'Maine's Own Mystic,' Amelia is suddenly quite in demand.
However, her attraction to Nathaniel, an artist who is decidedly outside of Zora's circle, 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. And while she has no trouble seeing the futures of others, she cannot predict whether Nathaniel will remain in hers.
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 of them."
"I woke un Oakhaven, entirely ruined.
The ballad notes of a quadrille lingered on my skin, remnants of a chaine anglaise danced only in slumber. I heard a velvet voice against my cheek, and I burned in the dark and dreaming light of his eyes."
It seems like it's been a while since I've read a good historical novel. This was the perfect mix of mystery, history, and fantasy - very well done.
We get a peek into the life of Amelia - as she spends her summer with her cousin in Baltimore. Zora is outgoing, worldly, and beautiful. They immediately become friends and start sharing secrets. Amelia's secret is that she sees visions at sunset. The girls use this to become famous around town - which does nothing for her marriage prospects. Not that it matters, she's already got her sights set on the most inappropriate guy. He's an artist... and broke.
Speaking of the girls' love interests - I wish there was more in this story about the guys. Of course, then it would throw off the whole point of view thing. But I would definitely read something that delves more into their lives. Each of them has something very interesting about them... one is a doctor's assistant (his father...), one is a painter - and sometimes paints dead people - and has powers of his own... and so much more. There are other normal-ish guys in the story as well, but I think the author did a good job getting my interest piqued about these characters.
There were a couple of things that had me confused. Specifically, the beginning. I do realize that the book starts farther in the future and all of the drama has already happened. But it took me a little while to get to that realization and was therefore confused for a bit. And a little ps about that future stuff... I wanna punch her brother in the face. Seriously. What a jerk.
Ahem, anyway... there's something so magical about Victorian times - at least in books. And to throw in actual magical events make it even better. I did feel like Amelia was being used by Zora to further her popularity, but that didn't seem like a big deal in the book. But I kinda felt bad for her - that she was being taken advantage of.
Though there were a couple of confusing things, I really did enjoy this book. I plan on recommending it to anyone who is a fan of historical fantasies. The ending was almost exactly what I wanted - and what I expected. A good ending can really make a book for me. I've seen that there is a companion novel coming out soon and I cannot wait to get my hands on it! Give this one a shot if you love the Libba Bray historical series (Great and Terrible Beauty) - I think you'll love this one too.
Other Blog Reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Rebecca's Book Blog
Silent T's Book Blog
Refracted Light Reviews
Fantastic Book Review
YA Books Central