Review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Title: The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publication Date: March 7, 2011
Series: Vespertine #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: NetGalley
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.  However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, 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.

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.
The Vespertine is a somewhat scandalous little Victorian story filled with beautifully haunting language.  The reader is thrust into the story near the end, right after a major conflict takes place, and experiences the events leading up to Amelia's current situation through a series of lengthy flashbacks.

In the early parts of the book, Amelia comes off as something of a hussy, by Victorian standards.  The first line of the book informs the reader that Amelia has been ruined.  The first flashback begins with Amelia ogling dock workers or some such.  It caused me to wonder if Amelia is the sort of girl who puts herself in bad situations regularly or if she is perhaps without common sense.  Amelia is nothing of the sort, though.  She's just a normal girl who is trapped in a repressive and restrictive time period as far as a young lady's behavior and propriety are concerned.  By the time Amelia had met her cousin Zora and they had their first conversation, I had fallen in love with both of them.

The plot has some great elements to it.  Amelia has a vision which comes true, and then everyone starts wanting her to look into their futures, but the things that she sees aren't always good.  Amelia is also enraptured with Nathaniel, who is not the sort of well-born boy that her brother is hoping she'll snag while in Balitmore, but who also seems to have mysterious abilities.  The parts of the story regarding the visions are intriguing and satisfying.  But I want more regarding the relationship between Amelia and Nathaniel.  They share a unique connection that I wish had been further explored in the novel.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Vespertine.  I reveled in the language and the haunting descriptions.  If you're looking for a historical fiction with a little bit of fantasy thrown in, this would be a good choice.


  1. I adored The Vespertine! Glad you liked it too! :) Great review.

  2. This one is definitely on my to-buy list! Thanks for the wonderful review!

  3. This sound great. The review definitely moves it up on the TBR pile.


What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment!

If you like this post, then please subscribe to the RSS feed!