Audrey's Reviews > The Vespertine

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
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Jan 29, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011_publish, ghosts, paranormal
Read from April 05 to 08, 2011

Amelia van den Broek has just arrived in Baltimore from her home in Maine to take advantage of the Season and meet an appropriate husband. However, an inappropriate match has caught her eye: a painter, below her class but compelling nonetheless. Something strange is happening to her, as well. At sunset, Amelia receives premonitions of things to come: some are happy, some are tragic. As the visions become more intense, Amelia senses she has now gotten in over her head and may never be able to recover.

The Vespertine is a romantic period-piece with a supernatural twist. I normally don’t go for historical fiction, because I feel like it always rings false when writers try to write so far outside their own time. That said, I think Mitchell’s prose is more authentic than other historical fiction I’ve encountered. It seemed like she really immersed herself in the language and customs of the period.

The plot was slow going at the outset, but as Amelia had more and more visions, the stakes grew higher and higher, and at the end I just couldn’t stop reading. The ending is every bit of melodrama you could want, and Amelia’s fall from society is swift and far. (I’m not giving anything away by saying that–the story begins with a flash forward of Amelia after she has already been ruined).

While Amelia’s powers were very cool, the abilities of love-interest Nathaniel just didn’t work for me. They seemed to detract from the story, and I think the book could have been even stronger without them. Just my opinion, though.

Overall, I think The Vespertine will really appeal to historical fiction fans. Mitchell’s writing is beautiful, as always, and the supernatural takes gives the novel something extra.
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04/06/2011 page 164
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