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The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
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Jan 02, 2011

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bookshelves: read-in-2011, that-made-no-sense, weird-science, pretty-prose
Read in January, 2011

The Vespertine is a haunting blend of romance, mystery, and the supernatural. Saundra Mitchell's writing is rich, and her imagery swept me away to another time. Her Victorian setting creates the perfect mood, and her descriptions touched all of my senses--it was like I could smell the scent of the apple, feel the touch of the silk, hear the music from the ball. Gorgeous writing, a lush atmosphere, and a forbidden romance combine into a heart-aching, intriguing novel.

I adore how a Victorian setting can make your heart ache at even a brush of a hand. Saundra is a master at setting your heart aflutter with a longing look or a glancing touch. She makes even a kiss on the hand so beguiling. The delicious flirting and tantalizing brief touches between Amelia and Nathaniel had me reading at a feverish pace to get to the next moment when they'd be together again. However, I grew tired of Amelia's teasing games and bossy orders to Nathaniel. At times, she seemed too capricious and prideful, and she didn't seem quite penitent enough at the end for everything that had happened.

In addition to creating a captivating forbidden romance, Saundra brilliantly develops a touching friendship between Zora and Amelia. So many heroines in young adult books seem to be loners or have terrible friends, so the admiration and support Zora and Amelia offer each other is refreshing.

Where I feel The Vespertine falters is in the supernatural aspects. Amelia and Nathaniel's gifts are fundamental to the story, but we receive no explanation or exploration into the origins of these gifts. The characters seem to accept their gifts with no questions asked, and I wanted much more asking. It was like the paranormal aspects were presented, we were all supposed to accept them, and there were to be no questions about where it all came from. Who is Nathaniel exactly? Perhaps the sequel will delve into the origins of these gifts and provide some answers.

The underdeveloped paranormal aspects aside, Saundra Mitchell's The Vespertine is lush and romantic with beautiful imagery and lyrical prose. Prepare to be swept away by a story that will touch all the senses.
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Quotes Sandy Liked

Saundra Mitchell
“Do forgive me.... I've no reputation of my own, and I forget they matter.”
Saundra Mitchell, The Vespertine

Saundra Mitchell
“The stars could have burned out around us, the moon could have fallen from the sky, and I wouldn't have known it. Not when he leaned indecently close and pressed his cheek against mine to murmur, "Tell me a secret."
I wanted him to tell me how he stopped time like that. How he read my mind. I wanted to admit I wondered if thoughts of me troubled him when he lay awake at night. But I could make none of that come to my lips....
Instead... I whispered back, "I've seen the future."
He didn't laugh. He didn't mock, not like he had done at Privalovna's performance. In the middle of our waltz, he stopped, nose to nose with me. He uncovered me with a look that somehow bared him, too.
And his question told me everything - that he stopped time because he needed me, that he read my mind because we were one. That I troubled his nights, indeed, because what he asked revealed it all.
"Am I with you there?”
Saundra Mitchell, The Vespertine

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