Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publication Date: March 7, 2011
Of Note: YA Historical Fiction Challenge Book #4
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 delicate jewel box of a novel. Perhaps that's a corny way to describe a book, but it can't be helped. I was so impressed with the writing, the language, and the research that Saundra Mitchell put into this novel. I follow Saundra on Twitter, so when she first mentioned that she'd written a book that takes place in 1880's Baltimore, I didn't need to know anything further! I grew up about forty minutes outside of Baltimore, so I was curious to read a book set there, as let's be honest, they don't come along that often.
Back to the book, I adored Amelia and Zora and their close friendship. They tend to get into mischief and when it becomes apparent that visions Amelia's been having aren't just a figment of her imagination, she starts doing readings as a lark, but events turn out poorly when some of her dark visions come to fruition. Nathaniel and Amelia's relationship was interesting, and you're left wondering the extent of their connection for a good portion of the book, and I enjoyed the tension.
My only issue with the novel was that at times the pacing was a bit slow. That wasn't the case for the ending. I read the last seventy pages as quickly as I could, I had to know what happened! When I finished reading, I was (for once) a bit disappointed that The Vespertine is not the first book in a series, but luckily there is a companion novel, The Springsweet, coming out in 2012. I will definitely be reading!