The Vespertine

( 40 )

Overview

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 ...

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The Vespertine

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Overview

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.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
In the spring of 1889, Amelia Van Den Broek is sent to live with her cousins, the Stewarts, to find a suitable husband. Baltimore provides many more opportunities for this quest than her hometown of Broken Tooth, Maine. The imagination of the city has been captured by spiritualists claiming to see the future or speak to the dead, but many have been shown to be frauds. When Amelia sees a vision that comes to pass, and its disastrous effects avoided because of her foresight, she becomes the toast of the town. She and her cousin Zora take advantage of their popularity, and the Stewarts' parlor is overrun with visitors seeking her sight. Unfortunately, her visions are not always pleasant or avoidable, and her connection to traumatic events put her and her loved ones in danger. The only one who seems to understand is Nathaniel, a poor artist, inappropriate to her station but entirely irresistible and as full of mystery as Amelia is. As Amelia develops from a naive country girl to a daring young woman aware of her own power, she remains a likeable, warm character. Readers will find themselves involved in her struggle between destiny and free will. While the first chapter introduces the plot and characters abruptly from a time after the primary action of the story, the fantastical elements reveal themselves smoothly throughout the rest of the book. A level of ambiguity in the ending, though it satisfactorily closes the book, will leave the readers pondering this story even after it is finished. Readers who enjoyed Libba Bray's "Gemma Doyle" trilogy will find this novel equally intriguing, and a similar mix of historical fiction and the supernatural. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This is a lush, dark Southern Gothic novel written with a richness of language that nearly smothers the tale of magic and romance at its heart. In spring 1889, 17-year-old Amelia is sent from her small Maine town to spend the year in big-city Baltimore with the intention that she will behave as a proper young lady and meet an appropriate beau. Enter the mysterious, brooding artist Nathaniel (who is not "of their set"), a boy-crazy cousin, sumptuous fabrics and bodice-baring fashions, and top it all off with Amelia's newfound ability to see portents of the future in the setting sun. The protagonist is a bit of a wet dishrag, the dramatic tragedy that Mitchell's prose so direly portends is disappointingly tame, and the titillation doesn't go beyond searing smooches. But the pervasively descriptive and evocative language combines with period vocabulary and detail to create a mood piece one would never want to deny romance-pining schoolgirls, to wit: "Though I peered yet at the sky, a warm, ornate pattern traced my skin, the traverse of his glance." The book is similar in many ways—though more fantasy than horror, and of a different era—to Mary Hooper's Newes from the Dead (Roaring Brook, 2008).—Rhona Campbell, formerly at Washington, DC Public Library
From the Publisher
Praise for The Vespertine:

"[A] richly conceived historical romance. . . . Fans of Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty will find themselves enchanted by this atmospheric tale."—Bulletin

"Equal parts vivid period detail, gothic melodrama, and foreboding premonitions coming true . . . an absorbing tale."—Booklist

"Written in a passionate, inviting voice, The Vespertine is a rich, historical novel of otherworldly power, forbidden romance, and questionable motives."
—Aprilynne Pike, New York Times Bestselling Author of Wings and Spells

"Sheer pleasure from beginning to end."—TeenReads.com

"I savored every word of The Vespertine; I knew it was an amazing book from the first page and I was entranced until the very last."—Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series

Praise for The Springsweet:

"A lovely historical romance. . . . The author conjures a convincing picture of life on the Oklahoma prairie, painting an absorbing portrait of the landscape and of the people there. . . . A high-quality, absorbing drama."—Kirkus Reviews

"The Springsweet will steal your heart. Zora is a wounded heroine who had me cheering as she rediscovers the strength she thought she'd lost. Blend in a smoldering, yet refreshingly subtle hero, and add a twist of magic and you have a perfect romance in the Old West with another of Saundra Mitchell's signature rich and nuanced historic settings!"—Aprilynne Pike, New York Times bestselling author of Wings and Spells

"I didn't think YA historicals could get better than The Vespertine. The Springsweet proved me wrong. This is a gorgeous, unputdownable book that will stay with you long after it's through. Saundra Mitchell just gets better and better."—Sarah MacLean, NYT and USA Today bestselling Author of Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord

"With Saundra Mitchell’s trademark evocative and gorgeous language, The Springsweet takes us across the plains, where the people thirst for love just as the land thirsts for water. I never wanted this book to end!"—Carrie Ryan, New York Times best-selling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series

Praise for The Elementals:

"In The Elementals the worlds of The Vespertine and The Springsweet collide with glass-brittle hopes and devastating consequences. The children of the supernatural must learn what their parents have long known, that even the most innocent magic demands a cost. A sumptuous read, as bittersweet as it is beautiful."—Aprilynne Pike, New York Times bestselling author of Wings and Spells

"Saundra Mitchell pulls off a thrilling conclusion to a mesmerizing series! She just gets better and better!"—Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series "Mitchell convincingly portrays the glittering, raucous L.A. of the burgeoning movie industry and the oppressive unease of looming war."—Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547482477
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/7/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Saundra Mitchell is a screenwriter and author. Her debut novel, Shadowed Summer, was a 2010

Edgar Award

Nominee, a Junior Library Guild selection, and an ALAN Pick. Saundra enjoys studying history, papermaking, and spending time with her husband and her two children. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

www.saundramitchell.com

.

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Read an Excerpt

Oakhaven
Broken Tooth, Maine
Autumn 1889

One

I woke in Oakhaven, entirely ruined.

The ballad notes of a quadrille lingered on my skin, remnants of a chaîne 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.

Morning had come, its watery brightness stealing shadows from the corners, but still I swayed.

Perhaps this once I could find my visions—my awful, eerie gift—without the fires of sunset. Perhaps this once I could abandon the vespers and go there on my own. To the place where I saw more than eyes could see. Where I knew more than minds could know.

Where I could be with him.

I had learned to do it for Zora, my sweetest friend—lost, and I was to blame! I couldn’t bear to wonder about her. I knew how I’d left her—wrecked and desolate, a shell because I’d cracked her open. I should have listened when she told me to bear it alone.

If some ethereal part of me counted sins, that part bore the darkest stain for the tragedy I brought her. Rocking until the floor kept time, I drew a breath elongated. I opened my arms to open my body.

If I could spill everything out, if I could but empty myself of sensation and thought, I could be filled again with the sight. If this were sunset, the visions would come. Through my mind’s eye, I would step inside someone else’s skin.

I’d walk on their legs, see with their eyes—whispers of all things to come. Until now I’d been too afraid to look for my older, wiser self. Today I whispered and rocked and rolled my eyes, hoping to see anything at all.

The need overwhelmed me, my breath rushing like wind, blood pounding in my ears—all distractions, terrible distractions. I begged through bitten lips, "Please, please, please . . ."

My skirts washed around me. I made fists of my hands, nails digging into the palms. If only pain brought clarity! Locked in this hopeless attic room, I flung myself at the desk. How viciously darling of my brother. He’d jailed me with pen and paper, but no one to write to.

I had nothing. I had no one.

Weighted by the ornate train of my gown, I climbed up. Only on my toes could I see the world outside, the first peach and plum shades of morning in the distance. Something heavy in me turned. I flattened my hands on the glass.

"Nathaniel, Nathaniel!" I cried, then seized by a terrible rage, I screamed. "How could you abandon me to this?"

I beat at the windows. I imagined my fists shattering the panes, shards making ribbons of my flesh. I tasted the blood. I felt the cold that would come of letting it course from me. This was no premonition, just dread hope.

Intention weighed my arms. I stood coiled. I meant to spring! To have it done! To end it all!

But my craven nature restrained me. The threat of pain made me a coward. I could only slap the glass uselessly. Ashamed, I pressed my brow against the wall and wept.

Then the attic door swung open.

Startled, I lost my balance entirely. The desk tipped over, and my skirts dragged me down like an anchor. In a shower of writing paper and unstoppered bottles, I fell to the floor. India ink splashed in black puddles, and my hands came up smeared with it.

August, my pale and angled brother, hauled me to my feet. His fingers bit through my sleeves, writing five hot points of pain on my flesh.

"What’s the matter with you?" he demanded.

"Nothing at all! I am fit and bright and sober as a priest."

With another shake, August asked, "Shall I send you to the sanitarium after all?"

"You should!" I shouted.

"Don’t test me, Amelia," August said, his voice rising. "I will beat the devil out of you. You have my word on that."

I couldn’t help but smile. "You can’t. You’d have to beat me dead. What will you do with your devil sister’s body, Gus? How will you explain me away?"

He answered me with a slap. It left a welt on my cheek, raised and burning, and all I could do was touch it gingerly—and laugh. Softly, but laughter all the same, for August was far more troubled by it than I.

Gray as wash water, he cast an accusing look at his hand.

I lay back, turning my eyes to the plastered ceiling to welcome a weary numbness. "Just poison my breakfast. You can call it a fever. Be done with me," I told him as I dropped to the bed.

"I doted on you once." Backing toward the door, August looked everywhere but at me. "I used to pull you about in my wagon."

"I’m much too heavy for your wagon now."

Taking out his key, August warned me as he once more locked me in, "Stay away from the windows."

Perhaps tomorrow, I thought, I shall be brave enough to put myself through them.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 23, 2010

    Beautifully haunting

    I am a huge fan of the Victorian era. To the way the women dress, to the chivalry and etiquette, and most of all, the beautiful prose that authors wove into immortal tales. That being said, it's hard for me to find a current historical novel that touches me as much as the classics. The Vespertine did just that, and it moved me. I fell in love with the relationship that Amelia developed with Zora, the kinship they shared, their companionship. I enjoy reading the banter of that time, two young girls gossiping innocently about their friends and trying to figure out their place in the world. The paranormal element was an exciting twist, too. Wuthering Heights is my favorite classic for this reason. I love the mix of the old world and the paranormal, it almost seems that the two belong together, both are so fantastic. The relationship between Amelia and Nathaniel is amazing and intense. Nathaniel's pursuit of Amelia made my heart speed, I held my breath with their every encounter, it was beautiful and magical. But don't let that deter you; this is a truly haunting tale. I found myself staring off into space after I finished the book trying to place just how it made me feel. I was left with an eerie contentment and fascination. Though the only thing I wished the book expounded more on was the actual supernatural element. I felt I didn't receive a good explanation and understanding of their powers. But overall the story was bewitching and utterly romantic.

    I give The Vespertine 4 flames! On my blog at YA Bound

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Lovely Gothic novel

    The Vespertine truly had every element needed for me to love it. It's historical fiction, and YA. Add to that the element of forbidden romance and throw in some paranormal elements. I've read a couple of historical young adult books, and I always hesitated to give them 5 stars for one thing or another with The Vespertine, I just knew.

    The Vespertine is written beautifully and very era appropriate. Amelia van der Broek, is the heroine, and she can see glimpses of the future through the vespers an ability that first makes her popular only to make her unwanted later on when a very unfortunate vision of hers becomes a reality. I cared for the characters, even those who were not the main focus such as Thomas and Zora. My heart broke for them at the end of the book. I like romance in my YA books, and this book as good doses of it. Amelia is sent to live with the Stewarts in order to find herself a husband, instead she finds herself drawn to Nathaniel, a struggling artist. They can never marry, at least not in their society and this is enough to add the forbidden romance element to the story. There's something else to Nathaniel though. Nathaniel, like Amelia, has a strange ability that is what drew him to Amelia in the first place. I would have liked to see an end to both Mattie and Caleb (because I absolutely hate them!), but since this story is told from Amelia's point of view I suppose I shouldn't be so greedy. This is the same reason, I let it slide when I didn't get to learn more about Nathaniel.

    I would recc'd this book to fans of the Gemma Doyle trilogy. The set up is there, historical, young adult, a heroine trying to cope with her new found ability. I do feel I should warn fans of paranormal, that this element in The Vespertine is very subtle. Me? I did not care, I enjoyed the story overall. There were parts that I found scary too, of course I am a "goose" (see I even picked up era appropriate language!). In the beginning I found myself confused, and having to go back and re-read the prologue, be sure you keep track of the seasons and year since it's what confused me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Slow pace ending makes up for it a bit.

    This was an okay book. Certainly not the best, but it had it’s moments where it did engage me as a reader. The book had some gothic overtones and the setting of the story (which was Victorian but in the USA era) was interesting - which kept my curiosity going. I really enjoyed reading about Amelia because she didn’t care what others thought of her or what society thought. She did whatever she wanted to do despite the consequences.

    I really liked her paired up with Zora. They were like two kindred spirits and made an interesting duo to read. The other characters were also pretty good. I’m trying to figure out whether Nathaniel is some other worldly creature, or just someone with paranormal powers. I was a bit confused there (I’m sure that’s probably explained in the other two books)

    What bugged me about this book is, it went at such a great pace, and then halfway through the book it slows to the pace of waiting for the entire carton of molasses to empty. It goes SUPER SLOW. Almost to the point where I wanted to give up the book. I’m not sure why it became this way, after being halfway in the book you’re then set back on pace and the book gets interesting in the end. In fact it’s the ending that makes up for the snail’s pace. Sort of.

    Worth a read and if possible, try and work your way through the snail trail in the book. The ending makes the reading worth it. Otherwise if you don’t have the patience, you might as well pass this one by.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012

    Needs to be fleshed out

    Characters are interesting, but I felt like half the book was missing...

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  • Posted May 22, 2012

    I tried to like this book, but couldn't.

    I love finding fictional books set back in the Victorican Era, so when I saw this book, I have to give it a go. Sadly, I wasn't to impressed. Nothing pulled me in to want to read more. It just seemed to drag along, and was then over.

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  • Posted May 10, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    What an outstanding novel! The writing is so beautiful that it l

    What an outstanding novel! The writing is so beautiful that it lingers like the most wonderful of fragrances. The description is rich and perfect, never too much, just enough. And the characters, so well done! I felt as though I lived their story right along with them. And what an ending! I can hardly wait to read The Springsweet.

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  • Posted April 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Historically Interesting!

    Amelia moves in with her cousins in Baltimore for the spring/summer of 1889 to experience a season full of fashionable dances & dinner parties, risky meetings with boys, and parlor visits for tea & gossip. Along the way, she indulges in spiritualists performances, which were the entertaining highlights of the time, like Lady Privalovna and Miss Avery at the local theater. Purely by chance, Amelia becomes a bit of a silly sensation among her friends when she has a vivid image of her cousin Zora dancing at the upcoming ball and ever details plays out. Before she knows it, word spreads of her unique parlor gift and callers all over Baltimore come for a reading by "Maine's Own Mystic, Miss Amelia can den Broek" (pg. 165) Yet, not all predictions are good and Amelia finds she is beginning to hold back what she sees, keeping secrets of dark truths that are bound to happen. Things become even stranger, when the boy, Nathanial, she is developing feelings for reveals startlingly truths about himself as well. Can Amelia face the pressures of just how powerful and haunting her psychic powers are becoming all while on the hunt for a decent husband and proper social standing?

    'Not all that glitters is gold' would be the perfect motto from The Verpertine. Amelia is a head-strong girl that I immediately liked. You can tell she's damaged goods right off from the beginning of the story and that adds a lot to her character development throughout - something I always admire in a good book. Her cousin, Zora, was probably my favorite character since she's so deliciously evil and sweet. Together they are a frightful combination and when Amelia's power of foretelling the future becomes known, Zora becomes her quick-minded assistant in setting up the proper meetings. Yet, things easily get carried away when some of Amelia's morbid readings become unexpectedly true and the tables quickly turn. All in all, I liked this book, it was invigorating since the setting/plot was not all that common for a young adult tale, so I hope you enjoy it as well.

    Likes: I'm excited Book #2 -- The Springsweet in the series will focus on Zora Stewart, yayy! April 2012

    Dislikes: I highly enjoy historical stories, but if this book would have had a little bit more creative insight, some extra spark within the characters, and even some much needed oomph to the overall tale, it would have received a higher rating from me. Yet, sadly, it dragged out and played almost too leisurely for my taste to get anything higher than 4 out of 5.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Good story

    I thought this was a good story but was omewhat undeveloped. First while i always enjiy reading stories written and set in the late 1800's i found it dufficult to read a book written "now" and set bck then. Somthing about the language used not feeling quite as natural. Also it took a long time to get to anythung to exciting and then it was a quick drop to the end. ALSO it was a little to unbelievable paranornmal stuff for me.

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  • Posted January 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Vespertine

    So this book was pushed on me by Lynn at Bringing the Epic. She has always pushed really great books on me so when she was like, " you have to read this book! It is my favorite book of the year!" So I promised her I would give it time when I have the time. Well I had the time and I am happy I did.

    The book is a historical fiction and it is about this girl named Amelia. Amelia goes and lives in Baltimore with a family. While she is there she is going to go to school and work for the family. But also during this time, she becomes very close friends with Zora, the daughter of the house. But also while she is there she meets Nathaniel, and there is more than meets the eye with Nathaniel but she just can not put her finger on it.

    This book had everything that I thought was going to be in the book. It had a great love story, and a great mystery story to it. This would defiantly be a book that I would recommend to someone that loves books where there always is a happy ending. This is defiantly a book for them. The only thing that I can complain about the book is that it did have a happy ending. I prefer books that keep you going. Keep your attention and make you want more. This book was just a really good book. It was a easy read and a rainy day read. I need more suspense to the story. But that is just me. Some out there are going to fall in love with the this story.....like Lynn.

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    Wonderful story

    This has the genuine feel of the time it is written about, written with wonderfully descriptive language. It almost feels as if it could have been written years ago! Really recommend this one.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Lovely

    In the summer of 1889, 16 year old Amelia is sent to live with the Stewart family in Baltimore where she is to meet influential, respectable people and to make a good match to secure her future. Instead Amelia meets the intriguing Nathaniel, a struggling artist, and unwittingly creates all kind of trouble for her new friends when she discovers that she possesses the ability to glimpse the future.

    "The Vespertine" is endearing as it is heartrending and written in a classical style that evokes the Victorian era. Though at times a little verbose, I loved that the period was upheld in this way. Amelia is an interesting character; naive, at times selfish and petulant, yet she has a good heart, a strength of will, and a lovely sense of humor.

    I would've liked to see romance built a little more gradually. There was a little bit of insta-love going on and although I loved the romance in this book, I would've like a bit more substance.

    A dark, witty, tragic, dangerous and strangely hopeful book.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    absolutely lovely

    Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. To be fair, I have a soft spot for period fiction. I love reading about the mannerisms and the social interactions from the past. Seeing how much we've changed, but yet not changed has always been fascinating to me, so when I read that the book was based in the 1800s I knew that I was in for a treat.

    The story follows Amelia, who has an odd power to see the future at sunset. Her brother sent her from their home in Maine to live with cousins in Baltimore so she could find a suitable match. However, she ends up falling for a man her brother would not approve of and getting into a lot of mischief along the way.

    Amelia and her cousin, Zora, are quite likable. Their friends are quickly introduced and, with the exception of Sarah and Mattie, we don't find out a lot about them. It would have been wonderful to read more of their relationship with their friends and acquaintances. However, we do see a lot of Thomas and Nathaniel, as well as the whirlwind romance as the two court their ladies.

    I cannot deny that I wished there were more pages to this book. I love the way Saundra described the period and the way the girls pushed the limits of their time. I loved the interactions and insight into how society worked with its rules and etiquette, as well as the parallels that could be drawn with society today. I loved the paranormal twist to the story and the fast paced ending . The Vespertine was a lovely tale, that left me wanting more.

    [review of arc via netgalley]

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo

    Amelia spends the summer in Baltimore with her cousin, Zora, in hopes of finding a proper husband during the season. As it will be her only season, Amelia has really high hopes for this summer. At her very first party, she meets an artist who's only invited to make sure the table has an even number. Even though he's beneath her, she looks forward to meeting him again. Meanwhile, her cousin's in love with Thomas, a boy from town. One evening, while looking out the window, Amelia has a vision of her cousin wearing an elegant gown and dancing with Thomas. When that vision comes true, Zora begins to spread the word. Soon, other girls are coming to see Amelia and Zora. Calling cards from all levels of society appear. Everyone wants to have their future told. The girls happily oblige the crowds - they've never been more popular. However, not all of the visions are delightful. Some are dark, and unfortunately, the dark visions Amelia has also come true. When this happens, will the two cousins still be looked upon favorably? A lush, romantic tale blending the Victorian era with the paranormal, THE VESPERTINE hints at the darkness of the story in the beginning of the book. The time period shifts back and forth between before and after the season. Amelia and Zoe's friendship thrives, making the time of fancy dresses, balls, calling cards, and societal rules come alive.

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  • Posted April 23, 2011

    Courtesy of Readergirl Reviews a Teen Book

    This book was unlike the type I typically read. I'm not much of a historical reader, but I'm glad I tried this one. It was so interesting to see the historical detail in this story. The author obviously did her research, and I felt transported by the ambience of the time period and the lush backdrop of old parties and the "society" of the day. It sucked me in completely.

    Amelia's character was intriguing, strong, but still somewhat sad, due to various events that occur in the story. Amelia's visions, I knew, were going to end up getting her into trouble, which wasn't much of a guess, considering how the story starts, but I still found myself upset for her when the inevitable occurred.

    Nathaniel was a sexy character. It wasn't anything in particular that made me feel that way. He just was. And the interactions between these two were hot, but still so sweet. Their encounters were made even more compelling by the beautiful language of the prose.

    Saundra Mitchell's writing was my favorite thing about this story. It was beautiful, lyrical, poetic. It was a pleasure to read just to be able to savor its beauty. There are a few authors like that whom I've read that just make me want to read their work for the sake of the work itself. Check the teasers I posted this week for a taste of her writing and you'll see what I mean.

    I seriously loved this story, these characters, and most especially Saundra Mitchell's writing. I would highly recommend it to anyone, but especially to those readers that love a beautifully crafted sentence.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    The Best Book I've Read This Year

    This is easily the best book I have read so far this year. It is so beautifully written that I felt as if I was living the story, experiencing it along side Amelia. In a world of trendy writing it isn't often one comes across a book that is written so masterfully that it takes my breath away. This novel did that and so much more. It has just the right amount of magic to go along with a prose so perfect it reminded me of why I love to read. A must read would be putting it lightly! Go get this book now!

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  • Posted March 27, 2011

    Great Historical Read but Not Fan of Paranormal Twist

    I'm a huge fan of historical novels so from the historic aspect, this book does not disappoint. I love this time period for all its balls and gowns and Saundra Mitchell wonderfully crafts Baltimore in the late 19th century.

    I usually love forbidden romances, but I was not so much of a fan of this romance. I just did not feel it between Nathaniel and Amelia. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of Nathaniel. He's forbidden, independent, and an artist. He doesn't have to listen to the rules of etiquette, but he's also not the "ideal" husband that Amelia should be looking for. He's charming and seems like an overall nice guy. I love male characters that as a reader you can easily fall in love with. But I couldn't get that with Nathaniel. Maybe if there were more scenes with him in the book I would be able to feel the chemistry between them.

    I'm not so sure if I liked the format of the book. At first, I did not even notice that the book was switching back and forth from past and present, Maine and Baltimore. (I have a bad memory for dates and such.) But once I realized this, I thought that it made the book a bit anti-climactic. I knew that things were going to get downhill for Amelia. It killed the suspense. However, I was still interested in why she was "ruined" and why she was sent back to Maine. Still, because I knew that bad things were going to happen, I just found myself restless and waiting for the inevitable.

    The paranormal entities of this book is a twist to the genre. I usually don't see paranormal and historical mixed together so it was different. However, I do not think that the paranormal part of the book was executed as well as the historical. Half the time, I was really confused on what was going on. I had to keep rereading passages because I wasn't understanding exactly what was happening. The descriptions were vague so I had difficulty imagining what was going on between the characters.

    Nothing exciting really happens until the last twenty-five pages. Then, its jaw-dropper after the next jaw-dropper and I could not believe that so much drama could happen in such little time. I felt like the ending was a bit rushed. I'm left with a feeling that there could have been more, but the book just came to an end. I was really left unsatisfied, especially because just when the book started to pick up, it was already over.

    I would still recommend this to fans of historical romances because based on my experience, there aren't that many that deal outside of England. I love the location of Baltimore. I love this time period.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I'm the shadow on the ground, I'm the Vespers in the wind

    This is the first Saundra Mitchell book that I have read, but what an introduction! The Vespertine is fantastic read with all the good trimmings of scandalous romance and mysterious premonitions that come calling at sunset. Right from the get-go, Amelia draws us into the middle of her story where she is basically locked away by her brother for doing something unspeakable - and from there, we get thrown back to the beginning and race through the pages with breathless curiosity. Almost like the girl on the cover, though I'm still not sure why she's running exactly... I fell in love with the characters and writing - not to mention the time period that Ms. Mitchell chose to set the story in! Very lush, very provocative, very tempestuous. I have a fondness for calling cards and dances, not to mention handsomely-dressed men! :) It was fun to follow Amelia and her cousin Zora around as they got measured for gowns and spied on boys under the pretense of picnicking or walking. The Vespertine reminded me a little of The Witch Of Blackbird Pond which is one of my favorite childhood classics that I haven't read for a long, long time. Amelia's arrival to Baltimore as the "new girl" reminded me about Kit's arrival to Connecticut from Barbados, although Amelia managed to keep her tongue in check most of the time. As far as Amelia's Vesper visions go, I felt that this aspect of the story was a little downplayed and perhaps left open to interpretation as to the why and the what happens next. I was a little surprised at how things turned out for Amelia and her visions - I had expected a little more severe consequence based on the time period, but a different route had been taken. Not to mention Nathaniel's secret - I am more than curious about what's going on with him! Overall I think her Vesper visions played an important part in the story, but they weren't the important part of Amelia's life - at least, not until they foretold of dark futures. There will be a companion piece to The Vespertine, but I'm not sure if it will be directly related to Amelia or Nathaniel. From the looks of it, it might be of different story altogether - but I would think a "companion" might have cameos? We shall see in 2012!

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  • Posted March 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Elegant Writing and Gorgeous Imagery Make This One Special

    The Vespertine is a stunningly elegant novel set in summer and autumn of 1889. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, even when it has a slight paranormal twist, but Saundra Mitchell completely captivated me with her words. Amelia's summer in Baltimore, learning the ways of women and finding a suitable husband, doesn't sound like anything out of the ordinary, but when she begins to have visions at sunset and her world spins out of control, we get to see just how extraordinary it all is.

    Amelia's summer away from home and her overbearing brother is full of freedoms and adventure. She's a young woman, but with her second cousin Zora, she's a force to be reckoned with. The two girls live for slight misbehaviors and sidelong glances at boys they should not be after. Their interactions are very much sisterly and full of affection. Amelia's instant attraction to Nathaniel, an unsuitable young man, is heady and delicious. Their encounters fan the flames of Amelia's fiery heart and made me yearn for more.

    If Mitchell's vivid writing and incredible setting isn't enough, Amelia's sunset visions and the slow reveal of a 'ruined girl' make this impossible to put down. The time period lends so much to character development and growth because in 1889, young women were meant to be proper young ladies who did not go out alone and certainly did not attract or accept the attention of young men without the use of proper channels (i.e.: suitors calling on them). But Zora and Amelia enjoy flaunting the rules a bit and are much happier following their emotions and their hearts.

    Mitchell's writing, as I said before, is stunning. The words she weaves together form these beautiful sentences and this unforgettable story. It truly feels like the reader is not an outside party looking in, but someone who was there, alongside Amelia every step of the way. Amelia easily reels the reader with her tenacity and Nathaniel had me swooning with his straight-forward feelings without any pretenses or disguises. There is a sense of urgency throughout the book that makes it a page-turner. The autumn chapters in Maine that are interspersed throughout Amelia's summer stay in Baltimore heighten the tension because it is clear that the future is not that bright. Getting there kept me on the edge of my seat.

    The Vespertine is gorgeous and beautiful and full of words that made me sigh. Saundra Mitchell has created a story that I never thought I'd enjoy, yet I've discovered I love. Amelia, Zora, Nathaniel, and every single character in between are a delight to read; whether it's for their good qualities or their bad. I wish this story was longer so I could have travelled along with Amelia through Baltimore, Maine, and anywhere the vespers would have taken her. I implore you - even if this doesn't sound like your kind of story - read The Vespertine. It took me by surprise and I can only hope its magic works on you as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2011

    Lush

    The only word I can think of to describe this book is lush. I felt like I went back in time when I read it.

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  • Posted March 14, 2011

    Good easy historical fiction. Give it a shot

    I'm going to try and do my best on this review, but this is the first historical fiction that I've read. Well, as far as I can remember anyway.

    In the beginning, it was a little difficult for me to get into. Well, I shouldn't really say that, because the story did hook me! I think it was more of the writing style and the story setting that I wasn't used to. Having said that, I did enjoyed this read! I am glad I opened up to reading something I usually don't, because it was a good experience.

    I really enjoyed the characters, well MOST of them. I wouldn't say that I necessarily connected with them, but they were written really well. I actually saw the story playing itself out in my mind. There were some unexpected twists that I think added in quite nicely.

    As far as things that I didn't like about the book, there isn't a lot that I can think of that I just down right did not like. However there were a few things that I questioned. For example, how Amelia's visions just started happening out of no where. I'm pretty sure that she has seen many a sunset in her lifetime, why did they just begin to happen now? I also didn't care for how the author jumped back and forth between Spring and August of 1889. It made things a little confusing for me and I had to go back and double check dates and such at the beginning of those parts.

    That's about all I will say for this book. Like I said, this is my first historical fiction so it isn't really my strong suit. If you are interested in reading a historical fiction with a touch of paranormal and romance, go pick this up!

    I rate it a 3.5 / 4

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