The Vespertine

The Vespertine

by Saundra Mitchell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547482477
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 03/07/2011
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Saundra Mitchell is a screenwriter and author. Her companion novels The Vespertine, The Springsweet, and The Elementals have been praised for their rich historical settings, evocative language, and heart-pounding romance. Her debut novel, Shadowed Summer, was a 2010 Edgar Award Nominee, a Junior Library Guild selection, and an ALAN Pick. Visit her website at

Read an Excerpt

Broken Tooth, Maine
Autumn 1889


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.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

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

"For teens who enjoy gothic romances, there is much to savor."—VOYA (5Q, 4P)

"Mitchell depicts Victorian middle-class society with real flair. Her descriptions of the girls ring vibrantly true."—Kirkus Reviews

"A lush, romantic tale blending the Victorian era with the paranormal."—

"This historical paranormal romance, taking place in 1889 Baltimore, is equal parts vivid period detail, gothic melodrama, and foreboding premonitions coming true. . . . An absorbing tale."—Booklist

"Sheer pleasure from beginning to end." —

"Written in a passionate, inviting voice, THE VESPERTINE is a rich, historical novel of otherworldly power, forbidden romance, and questionable motives. From the very first line, readers will be swept up in Amelia's plight to discover her own powers and find the courage to face her fears, her blossoming love, and even accusations of murder."—Aprilynne Pike, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Wings and Spells

"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. Saundra Mitchell's descriptions are almost truer than truth—you feel them rather than know them."—Carrie Ryan, New York Times Bestselling Author of the critically-acclaimed The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves

"Dark and luxurious with rich, compelling characters and a perfect blend of the mysterious and the fantastic, Saundra Mitchell's THE VESPERTINE is Victorian gothic at its finest—at once evoking the lyricism of Bronte, the heart-pounding of Poe and a vivid, enticing voice that is entirely her own."—Sarah MacLean, Author of The Season and 9 Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

"Equal parts vivid period detail, gothic melodrama, and foreboding premonitions coming true . . . an absorbing tale of a headstrong and passionate (but not anachronistically so) woman seeking her future." —Booklist

Customer Reviews

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The Vespertine 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
ParaBooks More than 1 year ago
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
DarkFaerieTales on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Quick & Dirty: Romance and paranormal talents consume the life of one teenage girl in Victorian America leaving a path of death and destruction in her path. Opening Sentence: I woke in Oakhaven, entirely ruined. The Review: Set in late 19th Century America, Amelia van den Broek trades her life cooped up in her brother¿s attic in frigid Maine with the bustle of society with cousins in Baltimore. The book starts with insinuating that Amelia has ruined herself socially. What happened in Maine is never discussed, which instantly made me interested to see what would happen in the rest of the book. Following social structures of the upper middle class of the time, Amelia¿s only hope is to secure a good match in Baltimore society. Comparing this practice to what we experience today drives home how much society has and has not changed since the Victorian period. Girls today have more freedom to choose whom they marry, but there are still social and family structures in place to urge what they consider to be a good match based on wealth and status. The two main characters that we see are our narrator, Amelia, and her cousin Zora Stewart. The two have never met before Amelia moves in with the Stewarts for the season, but they become fast friends, and behave like sisters. We learn a lot about each girl through their interactions with each other. Amelia is strong willed, but knows the proper rules of society. Sometimes she breaks the rules intentionally, which normally gets her in trouble. For example, when she starts school with Zora in the one room school, Amelia is assigned the last desk farthest from the stove until she can challenge someone for their desk the next week. Instead of waiting until Monday, Amelia speaks up and challenges Thomas, Zora¿s crush who arrived late to class. Instead of allowing it, the teacher sends Amelia, Thomas, and Zora home. Her rule breaking only increases after meeting the handsome artist, Nathaniel Witherspoon. Nathaniel and Amelia instantly have chemistry that is literally warm to the touch. He is a poor artist, but respected enough to be invited to dinners with families like the Stewarts to ensure an even number of guests. He is not the same class as Amelia, thus not a suitable match for her, but she doesn¿t care. I¿m siding with Amelia on this one. Amelia doesn¿t really care about being part of the upper class, so she would rather marry for love. At first Amelia tries to deny that she loves Nathaniel, but in the end, it becomes clear that she would rather be with him than anyone else. Nathaniel is handsome, talented, and can fly. Amelia is new to her paranormal talent of seeing prophetic visions of the future, but Nathaniel can ride the winds and appear wherever he wants. Both of their gifts are strong, and compliment each other. She is the fire and he is the wind. While Amelia¿s talent is well known around Baltimore after a few social calls, only Amelia knows Nathaniel¿s secret. Amelia¿s ability to see at sunset snippets of what will happen to people, whether it be menial or important, makes her a target when one of her prophesies comes true, and people she trusted turn on her. Zora is sweet, but also mischievous, which makes her a perfect companion for Amelia. Often Amelia follows Zora¿s lead when doing something that they know they should not, like attending a spiritualist show unchaperoned, save for Thomas, after getting sent home from school. Zora cares fiercely about her friends and family, and will do everything she can to make sure they are taken care of. She grew up in Baltimore society, but is not condescending towards Amelia when she doesn¿t know the social protocol. Zora is still so young even though she and Amelia are the same age since she hasn¿t experienced any sort of tragedy in her life until the very end of the book. It is in Saundra Mitchell¿s next book, The Springsweet, that we learn even more about Zora Stewart. Overall, I enjoyed this boo
resugo on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I enjoyed this book, a lot actually. It was a quick read and one I got lost in. I started reading at 6pm, and suddenly it was 9. I thought it was original and interesting and exciting and mysterious. Though I must say that it isn't a happy book. A lot of sad things happen and though Amelia gets the guy, it's rather bitter-sweet. I did feel like there was more story to tell. It's never explained why Amelia can see what she sees and why Nathanial can do what he does. There isn't a lot of set up and not much of a conclusion. This wasn't necessarily bad, I was just left wanting more of the story. (And a happier ending).
titania86 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In the summer of 1889, Amelia van den Broek is sent to Baltimore to live with her cousins and find a suitable match. Her brother also expects her to start anew and make acquaintances to elevate her social standing so she won't be his responsibility any longer. With the freedom and excitement of being in a new city, Amelia ignores her brother's orders and enjoys a bit of trouble and fun with her cousin Zora. Then she meets Nathaniel, an artist paid to go to parties to make the numbers even, and she falls in love. He's obviously not a proper match, being not even close to her in terms of social standing, but she is inexplicably drawn to him. In addition to this budding romance, Amelia discovers by accident that the setting sun, the time of the vespers, reveals visions to her of things to come. At first, Amelia is frightened, but once word spreads and she gains quite a following, it seems fun. That is until a gruesome visions comes true and suspicion is cast on her as perhaps the cause of the accident instead of just a seer.I didn't really know what to expect when I started The Vespertine, but it was a quick enjoyable read that held my interest. The characters were all different and full of life, despite what everyone assumes about that era. Amelia had a real joie de vivre and isn't above doing some supposedly indecent things to enjoy her life. She and Zora put on a show to be proper ladies of society, but in private, they were just normal teenage girls with the same fears and anxieties of modern teenagers. Even though they wear different clothes and don't have as many opportunities as modern women do, I could see myself in them. I loved their relationship and how they interacted. They were more friends than just cousins. Amelia's relationship with Nathaniel was also realistic and palpable. Unlike some other YA novel heroes, I could see why she was drawn to him and, even though he was socially inferior, he wasn't a bad boy or a jerk. He treated Amelia with tenderness and made sure he was there for her when she needed him. I looked forward to his appearance throughout the book. Even Amelia and Zora's school friends, all pretty minor characters, had their own fully realized personalities that were conveyed in short passages. My only complaint about the novel would be the pacing and how little paranormal events there were in comparison to everything else. Much of the book was just about Amelia and Zora's day to day lives: their friends, the parties they went to, the clothes they wore, the social expectations of the day, etc. While I still find this interesting, I felt that Amelia's visions and the other paranormal aspects figured in as fairly minor. When the accident happens, causing her friends and family to turn on her, there were not very many pages left and I felt it was a rushed ending. Based on the description, I figured the bulk of the conflict would be after that event, but this was not the case. The Vespertine was a fluid and fun read that had relatable characters and featured excellent, descriptive writing from Saundra Mitchell. I hope there is another book in the works and I will be sorely disappointed if there isn't. I would recommend this to all lovers of young adult fantasy and historical fiction.
Bookswithbite on LibraryThing 8 months ago
One of my favorite genres is historical fictions. And it works better for me if you add a little paranormal twist in there. Now this book I really like. Amelia is sent to Baltimore to find someone worthy to be a husband. What she finds instead is crowd of people coming to her for her visions. And one boy in particular can hear her in the wind.I loved the plot of this book. While it was a bit slow in the beginning, it certainly picked up once Amelia visions began to come true. Amelia is a very smart girl who knows whats she wants despite what her brother thinks. Amelia may be different, but she has a spark that anyone can enjoy. Nathaniel was like no other boy I have encountered in a book. He, unlike most boys in books, knew where he stood in society and refused to bring Amelia down with him. He wanted better for her. What got me was his lack of confidence in their relationship. Most of the time you see the girl running away, this time we see the guy. Amelia is strong and wanted Nathaniel no matter what. The paranormal part was good and I like how it something that can be related to real life. There was no great shown down or great powers. Just Amelia who can see the future, who's life is hanging in the balance of her decisions.
kmartin802 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Amelia comes from Maine to stay with her cousins in Baltimore to make a match for herself. But the young man she is attracted to is completely ineligible named Nathaniel. He is an artist and only invited to the dinner parties as a Fourteenth - someone paid to atten the party so that numbers are even. Amelia meets her cousin and her cousins friends and gets involved in their lives and hopes. Her role is magnified when she starts seeing visions at sunset and the visions begin coming true. This is historical fiction set at a time when spiritualists were all the rage but most were frauds. Amelia's visions are frighteningly real. Moody, atmospheric and romantic!
jjameli on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Vespertine feel in the middle for me. I loved the time period, as well as Saundra Mitchell's writing. Very clean, and consistent with the period. Nathanial, the main character's love interest is worthy of Amelia's feelings. YA's main love interest are tending to fall short for me, but Nathaniel is the real thing. I loved his headstrong personality. What didn't do it for me so much was Amelia's sidekick, Lizzy. I could not stand her. Also, it took a while to get to the meat of the story. I would have liked the plot to have began moving quicker than it did.Overall, I'm not gushing, but it was a solid okay read.
dukesangel002 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I'm normally not a huge fan of historical fiction, but occasionally one will catch my eye and I have to pick it up. This one was definitely not a disappointment. The Vespertine pulled me into the 1800s and kept me captivated and interested with every page. I really felt like I was living in that time period and caught myself talking like it once I put the book down.Amelia is a young, spunky girl, gone to live with family in order to find a suitable mate. She falls for a guy who could never be suitable to marry, someone with no prospects, and starts a whirlwind romance. Their romance was full of heat and passion, yet it was written subtly, with sweet stolen touches and kisses, which I really enjoyed. Amelia also sees glimpses of the future in the sunset each day. When word gets around she soon becomes well-known and is called on by many. But these visions may not turn out to be the gift she first thinks it to be.Zora, the girl Amelia is rooming with, is a spunky girl who fought against the rules at the same time she followed them. She toed the line and was great fun to read about as she did! I really enjoyed her funny and lively character! The other side characters all had their own distinct personalities and really added to the rich atmosphere of the story.As the book took a drastic turn and tragedy starts striking Amelia over and over again, I found myself on the edge of my seat, wondering what this poor girl would do next. The ending was extremely satisfying, all threads tied up and a great surprise that still has me smiling. I recommend this one to anyone who loves a great paranormal romance, even if you are like me and not one for historical fiction. I didn't regret branching into the genre and I don't think you will either!
karen813 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I am having a hard time writing a review for The Vespertine because I have such mixed feelings about it. On the plus side I loved the historical setting and the beautiful language. The author has a great talent for painting a picture in the reader's head. I found it to be a very well written book, descriptive and detailed. However I thought the story lacked action and the plot dragged for me. It took me a long time to finish because I just couldn't get into the story enough. So while I appreciate the beautiful language and descriptions I wish the book had an equally engaging plot.
renkellym on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Amelia is sent by her elder brother to live with her aunt in Baltimore. Whilst there, she finds herself experiencing strange visions come sunset. She and her lively cousin Zora decide to begin telling the fortunes of young ladies who seek the future. It¿s quite fun until Amelia¿s enterprise begins to get her in trouble, and her visions become decidedly more serious. In addition to the troubling visions, Amelia must also determine her feelings towards Nathaniel, a boy outside her social circle, but charming nonetheless¿My thoughts: The Vespertine is one of the best-written YA books that I¿ve read in a while. I do not say this lightly! Saundra Mitchell¿s writing is absolutely stunning. From the imagery to the descriptions of daily life in New England, 1889, and Amelia¿s experiences in the vespers, everything was written beautifully.I felt as if I was in a completely different world¿ a world where everything was gorgeous and mystical, and girls wore lovely dresses and were courted by handsome men. I wanted to live in Amelia¿s time!Saundra Mitchell expertly switches between telling of Amelia¿s time in Baltimore and her sad fate in Broken Tooth. It built the tension perfectly¿I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for something to go horribly awry. The whole story, in fact, is intriguing¿even the bits that do not involve the supernatural (though I must admit Amelia¿s gift was haunting and tempting). I enjoyed the ins and outs of life in 1889, and Amelia¿s interactions with her friend Zora and their male courters were great fun.Although it may be difficult to connect to characters from a different time (particularly the past), I found myself fond of Amelia. She bore the weight of her gift quite well, and I admired her for it. She also didn¿t want to conform to society like her friends, which made her a bit rebellious, a trait most teens can relate to.Nathaniel and Amelia¿s forbidden romance was so wonderful! Though they can¿t do more than gaze intently into each other¿s eyes, and sometimes sneak a kiss, I felt their passion, and it made me want to cheer them on. The added bonus of sharing a supernatural secret only made their bond stronger.Overall, I cannot express how much I loved The Vespertine. It is written so beautifully, and its story is so intriguing, that it was difficult to stop reading. I¿d recommend The Vespertine to fans of historical fantasy and general YA readers alike. You won¿t want to leave Amelia or the vespers anytime soon.
meags222 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I was very excited to get this book for review from NetGalley. It has been getting a lot of hype lately and I am glad that I was able to read it. It is set during the last 19th century and I really liked reading about all the clothes and customs of that time. It is funny to compare the way Amelia date to the way that dating happens today. Then they went to dances, with date cards, and had to have escorts to court. Kissing was scandalous, dating always lead to marriage and you had to marry within your own class or higher. Nowadays dating doesn't have to be about getting married, sex is barely scandalous and you can date whomever you want regardless of social class, race or sex. I'm not sure which is better; I believe there are advantages and disadvantages of both. Dating in the 19th century has a certain kind of mystery and naiivity that just isn't present today. That being said there was so much prejudice back then and I sometimes think that many people who got married were essentially strangers. I also enjoyed the future teller part of the story. Amelia is able to see things that will happen in the future and not all of these things are positive. I found it interesting how the author tied this into the plotline. The reason I only gave this book 3.5 stars is because I found at times that the book lagged a bit. It seemed that there would be long periods where not too much was happening. I also wasn't too sure on the ending of the novel. While the rest of the book was slow I found the ending to be a bit rushed. I'm fairly certain there will be a sequel to this book and it will be interesting to see where the story goes. I would recommend reading this if only for the vivid picture of the 19th century.
crazyhippo37 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Vespertine was not as good as I expected it to be. Though I liked most of the characters, I found the main one annoying. Amelia was so hot and cold, and I found her inauthentic. I liked Nathaniel but Amelia and Nathaniel's relationship seemed implausible. They barely knew each other, and suddenly they were saying they were in love? It just didn't ring true to me. Also, the prose was just so flowery, and while I understand that this is historical fiction and this was probably how an 18th-century woman spoke, for me it just distracted from the story. The paranormal element was never fully explained, but I think this is going to be a series, so I'm hoping some of the questions I have about the visions will be answered. For me, Thomas and Zora's relationship was the best part of the book. Though this was not my favorite book, it did have some good aspects, so I will most likely be reading Saundra Mitchell's next book.Favorite Quotations:"I've no reputation of my own, and I forget they matter." page 80"Everything's extraordinary. And everything that isn't sweetens the rest." page 241
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Set in Victorian-era Baltimore, The Vespertine is a modern Victorian Gothic novel about the coming of age of young society woman Amelia. Amelia is sent from her small country home to live with her relative Zora in Baltimore for a season and, of course, find a very eligible and wealthy husband. Amelia finds the magical world of society parties and other gaieties entertaining, until she begins having strange visions at sunset and, even more frightening, those visions start coming true. It's not long until Amelia gains respect as a medium, and garners followers in the most elite social circles of the city. Just when she's on top of the world, however, she meets an artist named Nathaniel, an alluring and fascinating boy who Amelia finds herself falling in love with. Her forbidden romance is just the beginning in an unexpected spiral that will send Amelia to disgrace.The first thing I noticed about The Vespertine is Mitchell's phenomenal writing talent. Her words are lush, descriptive, dreamy and just downright gorgeous. I was sucked in from the very first sentence and found myself drifting from word to word up until the very end, almost as if I was experiencing some kind of romantic dream with dark edges and wonderful, believable characters that drew me in.One of the few small flaws with the Vespertine, at least that bugged me, was that it is such a slim volume. I really wanted to read more about Amelia, Zora and their adventures in the fascinating world of Victorian Baltimore. Most importantly, I wanted to continue to devour Mitchell's amazingly beautiful writing and just bask in her lush, almost dreamy world of gowns, paranormal edge and romance that was tinged with just enough gothic darkness to give it something unique. It was also a little bit slow at the beginning, but that's being super picky.It's been a long time since I've read something as beautifully dark and haunting as The Vespertine. Mitchell perfectly combines young adult historical fiction with a unique and engaging paranormal element and a realistic and believable romance. A truly dazzling and incredible novel. I can't wait for the follow-up novel, The Springsweet, slated for release in March 2012.
theepicrat on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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!
emmyson on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I'm very into historical fiction, so this book looked like it would be right up my alley. Little did I know just how much. The Vespertine blends elements of historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural to create a beautifully written tale that had me from hello.Mitchell's prose is gorgeous. I never once felt like it was wordy, over the top, or contrived. It was so real. It brought with it images of Victorian Baltimore so nicely crafted that I felt like I was there. The thing is, Mitchell didn't have to use flowery language to do it. She just did it, and I can't explain how. All I know is that for the few hours I spent with this book, I was right there in Baltimore.And the characters. Wow. I'm an absolute sucker for this time period, so I feel like I have a good idea of what Victorian characters should be. And Mitchell nailed them. A little bit naughty, mostly nice, concerned with what the town would think, longing for belonging, etc. Loved them all. Amelia was strong and yet vulnerable. She was just what I'd imagine a back woodsy sort to be then, always kind of on the outside looking in. I feel like I lived her story right along with her. I ached for Nathaniel with her. I mourned with her. I despaired with her. I felt the ruination keenly. And at the same time, I felt a connection with other characters too. Not as much as with Amelia, but still there to an extent. I cared about each and every one of them, and wept with their misfortunes. I'm telling you, it's a rare book/author that does that for me.So this book isn't yet published. When it comes out in March, I do believe I'll be right there to pick up my hard copy, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. I'm giving The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell my 'Pick Me' rating.
karafrib on LibraryThing 8 months ago
¿Tonight in the vespers I see¿¿ and what would follow would be a premonition in the handwriting of young Amelia van den Broek in Saundra Mitchell¿s The Vespertine. When she is sent to live with relatives in Victorian Baltimore by her brother, Amelia knows that she is supposed to be finding a suitable husband. Unfortunately, at her first party she encounters the dashing and irresistible Nathaniel who is anything but suitable. Her cousin Zora introduces her to a circle of friends, and Amelia finds that she is quite content in Baltimore. Then, one evening, she reveals to Zora that she has the ability to see the future at twilight. When a premonition Amelia has for Zora comes true, Zora immediately believes her and begins to encourage Amelia to share her talent with their friends, a novelty that soon expands to include total strangers who call on the girls regularly. Despite her newfound popularity, Amelia grows apprehensive about her mysterious power when her more tragic visions become coming to fruition. Soon it seems that her only allies are Zora and Nathaniel¿but can she even keep them?In Amelia, Mitchell has created a heroine that is both strong and vulnerable. Nathaniel provides an intriguing love interest, as he is mysterious and seems to be hiding secret of his own. The group of friends is believable in every sense, as are the actions of all the characters. In a way, this book is almost tragic and yet it manages to maintain its sense of hope in the end. While it is slow to start, The Vespertine eventually picks up steam and will take readers on a ride through Victorian Baltimore that will leave them haunted and craving more. Recommended for grades 7 and up.
ReadingWithMartinis on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Synopsis: It¿s the spring and summer of 1889 in Baltimore, Maryland. Amelia van den Broek has come from Maine to stay with her more fashionable cousins, the Stewarts, in the hopes of learning a bit of culture and the skills to land herself a suitable marriage match. Amelia is thrilled to be in the big city with her cousin. She has led such a sheltered life in Maine, being raised by her older brother August, that the freedom of the city and the glitter of the fashionable parties and people overwhelm Amelia.What¿s more overwhelming is Nathanial Witherspoon, an artist that Amelia meets at a dinner party. Having no real means of employment, Nathaniel is not considered to be a suitable marriage match for Amelia, but Amelia can¿t help but feel connected to him and intrigued by the mysterious quality about him.But Nathaniel isn¿t the only one that mystery surrounds. Shortly after arriving in Baltimore, Amelia is attending a party and is standing near a window as the sun begins to set. As the sun sinks below the horizon, Amelia has a vision. She sees her cousin dancing with her beau in a beautiful new dress. Amelia tells her cousin, Zora, about the vision, but the two are stunned when the vision comes true.After that, Amelia discerns that her visions come to her only at sunset, at the time when priests are at their vespers, and that if she concentrates hard enough, she can control who her vision is regarding. People begin to clamor for Amelia¿s attention and want her to see their future. But when Amelia¿s visions turn dark and she predicts a tragedy, people begin to see Amelia not as a vessel of information, but the cause of the darkness that surrounds them.Review: I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley. I appreciate the publisher allowing me to read it prior to release, and I appreciate that this book was free, because I did not enjoy it at all. I try to always look for and find something positive to say about a novel that I didn¿t really care for, but I cannot say that I enjoyed a single thing about this book.So what were my problems with this book? For starters, I did not enjoy Mitchell¿s writing style or Amelia¿s narrative voice. I read quite a bit of historical fiction and I¿ve never encountered such an affected, forced, and often fake sounding/feeling narrative voice and construct. Much of the explanatory passages, character interactions, and general details of the novel had the feeling of having been written by someone who didn¿t research the language usage of the time period, and simply wrote how they thought it should sound. This was a major dent in the story for me because the story felt fake. I didn¿t feel like I was in 1889 while reading it. I felt like I was reading 2011 pretending to be 1889.Because there was this fake feeling to the novel as a whole, I really had trouble liking the characters. Amelia, who is the narrator and protagonist, was very annoying, as were most of the female characters in the novel. All the characters felt so untrue from a historical fiction standpoint that I couldn¿t connect to any of them.There¿s a supernatural element to this novel with Amelia¿s visions and Nathaniel¿s mysterious ¿gift.¿ Amelia having visions was OK. Not really that interesting, though. Nathaniel¿s ¿gift¿ was outright hokey and ridiculous. Aside from the boring and ridiculous aspects, there was absolutely no sort of explanation as to where the ¿gifts¿ came from, why Amelia never experienced them in Maine, and what exactly triggered the visions in Maryland.And then there was the ending of the novel. I don¿t do spoilers, so I am not going to give any great detail on the ending, but it was so slapdash, and totally outside the realm of the believable for a book set in 1889, that it just further entrenched my dislike of the book. Sometimes, a great ending can save what would have been just a mediocre novel. I had hope that was what would happen with this book, but it did not.Overall, this book was very disappoin
sch_94 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
My Summary: Amelia was raised in Maine, and after the death of her parents, she is sent to live with her brother August and his wife, Lizzie. After a few weeks of boredom, her brother decides it would be best to sent Amelia to Baltimore to visit with her cousin Zora for a few months during the summer - he hopes the experience will help her mature, and maybe even result in an engagement for 16-year-old Amelia. Amelia arrives in Baltimore and quickly becomes close with her cousin Zora, who throws a welcome-party on Amelia's first night. At the party, she is introduced to all of Zora's cousins and her circle of friends, though one person in particular stands out among the rest: Nathaniel Witherspoon.When she confides in her cousin, Amelia learns that Nathaniel Witherspoon isn't really a member of their social circle; he's an a struggling artist, a Fourteenth - someone hired to even out the number of guests at parties - which means he's off-limits to someone well-off like Amelia.But Amelia can't seem to get this handsome stranger out of her head, and fate seems determined to throw them together at any given moment...Then, one night, Amelia dreams of her cousin dancing with the boy she's been pining after for years. Brushing it off, Amelia is shocked when her vision comes true. She confides in Zora, who playfully suggests that Amelia is able to predict the future. Neither one can believe it when more of Amelia's visions begin to come true, and a chain of events is set off that destroys both their lives.My Thoughts: As I've mentioned before, I adore historical fiction - especially when it has a paranormal element to it, and lemme just say, Saundra Mitchell has reminded me just how awesome this genre is! This book was a treat to read. Really. The writing was amazingly smooth and easy to follow, and there were enough plot twists and surprises to keep me reading into the wee hours of the morning. The characters were really well-developed as well - I loved that Zora was mischievous and rebellious, but also knew when to be the sweet little girl she was expected to be. And Nathaniel? *drools*. Let's just say you'll be wanting to read a lot more about him in the future! ;) Amelia's conflicting thoughts about Nathanial were really believable as well, and they added another layer to the story that I was grateful for (don't you just hate when the heroine falls in love with the hero and can't see any of his flaws anymore? I know I do!). Another thing I really liked about this novel was the fact that the story wasn't all based on the 'forbidden-love' element - the romance was there, but it didn't overpower the plot like in other novels I've read lately. Also, just look at that gorgeous cover!Final Thoughts: I adored this novel, and I'll be pre-ordering it as soon as I publish this review (seriously). If you're a fan of historical fiction, I DEFINITELY recommend you check out this awesome book... and if you're not, I think you should give it a try anyway - you never know! It may be the start of a beautiful friendship!
ccourtland on LibraryThing 8 months ago
From the first line the lyrical prose flow beautifully. The dark poetic-style of each description sings along like a haunting carnival tune. The metaphors are juxtaposed and grounded in concrete images giving it just enough of a dreamy feel without leaving the reader floating in absurdity. I fell fast for this read and found myself enraptured with the story late into the night. I did not want to return from historical Baltimore anymore than I ever want to leave Victorian England. This is a historically dark romance that celebrates youth, love, expectations and fate. It possesses a touch of the paranormal that presents in the popular form of spiritualism or mysticism which was a growing fascination during this time period. It begins with what seems the end, much like a prediction, the finality of the picture is never certain. As the story continues the reader can only hope that the foreseen fate is not realized. Small tragedies are diverted only to reappear in another form, so it is plausible that a different ending might ensure. I adored this book and will read it again because the intensity of the prose-style left me breathless. I do not easily swoon, but Mitchell captured the painful hunger of first love and exploded it onto the page.Without discussing key parts of the story, I will only comment that I wish a few parts were slowed down with a hint of explanation. I was left with a couple questions that would have been easily resolved with short paragraph. *Received ARC for review via Netgalley/Harcourt Publishing
nizmart on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this haunting tale. I wasn't expecting such dark moments, and yet when they came I wasn't surprised to read them. It was a great read!
ComaCalm on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Vespertine is about Amelia van den Broek, who goes to stay with her cousin, Zora, during the Summer of 1899. After a few difficulties settling in with society she meets Nathaniel, a struggling artist, whom she immediately falls in love with. Amelia later discovers that she can predict the future and with some pushing from Zora decides to read peoples fortunes. But knowing the future can't always be a good thing and it might just be the thing that ruins her...When I first started reading The Vespertine, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. As I haven't read anything else from the Author or heard anything about her, I figured the story would either be brilliant or completely rubbish. I wasn¿t disappointed. The story starts off dark and angry, while the Gothic writing draws you in and makes you read more. The scenes are very vivid and easy to imagine, which draws you into the story even more. The beginning was confusing for me as I wasn't quite sure what was happening but after reading more of the book I re-read the first chapter and everything made much more sense.My favourite character in the novel is Zora, she¿s very smart and daring and Amelia needs a streetwise companion. One description of her particularly amused me: 'Zora spun and tossed herself onto the bed so completely that she'd need help back up... be left to roll back and forth on the duvet like upturned turtle'.After all of the suspense leading up to what happens to ruin Amelia I found the actual ending a little disappointing. One of those moments where you go `Oh... was that it?¿ The story finishes off with a nice ending though.(Received this free from NetGalley to review)
Twinmom on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Amelia van den Broek is on a mission in Baltimore in 1889 to find a husband at the bequest of her brother. What she finds is a best friend, a hidden romance and a power she isn't sure how it works. When people start to see her as the doer of all bad prophecy instead of a seer, things begin to spin wildly out of a control.I had heard all kinds of great hype about this book and wasn't sure what to expect. It took me a little bit to get into the book because it is written as if it could have been written in the late 1800's and not current times. Unless you are used to reading this kind of historical fiction, it takes some getting used to, but I actually enjoyed reading it after the initial shock. While the prologue threw me at first, after starting over, I got it(watch the dates)! I really liked the way that Amelia and her friend grew in the book, the other characters weren't as built up as well, and we were left not knowing a whole lot about Amelia's love interest (maybe intentional?). This book will probably one of the most talked about books in 2011, people will either love it or hate it. I actually liked it, very nicely written even if I didn't have my early American dictionary. Definitely will be watching for the sequel in 2012.I think this would be great for those middle school kids (11-14). Not alot of violence and very mild romance (they kissed). If you are a fan of historical literature you will really enjoy this book. Especially if you like America history stories! There is paranormal activity but in this book those activities do have consequences.I give it a 6 thumbs up out of 7 (I'd probably suggest a library to-read)HMC via NetGalley gave me a galley of this book to read for review.
Soniamarie on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In 1889 Maine, finding a "respectable" husband is difficult so Amelia's brother and guardian sends her to cousins in Baltimore to find a suitable mate. I'm sure her brother does not consider a starving artist and "fourteenth" at the dinner table a suitable mate, but that is what Amelia goes for. However, in Baltimore, Amelia begins to have visions and see tidbits of the future when she stares into the sunset. Thus while her and her cousin/friend Zora go to dances and prance around with girlfriends and giggle over boys, Amelia begins telling people's futures. Though she means well as far as warning people, she also developes a bit too much pride and her vision telling backfires with serious consequences... Amelia realizes her predictions can be postponed maybe, but fate really can't be changed. I mentioned the starving artist above, Nathaniel, Amelia's love interest. About 75 percent into the novel, his errr.. "power" becomes known. I know this is a paranormal, but it just didn't quite fit for me. As he says (something along the lines of, "Yours (Amelia's ability) is a parlor trick, mine could be called witchcraft." (Not a direct quote. I don't remember it word for word and it is a digital galley.) His ability was too far fetched for the Victorian time and setting. I also grew a bit weary of the girls' chatter and the "tell me you love me" and chasing each other stuff. Good book, just didn't send me reeling in amazement.
Bookworm_Lisa on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I was thinking three stars throughout the book. The ending brought it up to about 3.5 stars for me. . I rounded up.This book is dark and cryptic. It reminded me of a thunderstorm. Occasionally there would be a flash of lightning and then you would be able to see clearly the events in this book.The book begins with Amelia's reputation ruined. Her brother sent her for a season to marry. When I first started reading, I had to check and make sure that this wasn't a sequel, I knew that there was a lot of back story that I was missing. I didn't realize that after the first, the book went on to tell the story behind her ruination.Youth can be reckless and play with fire. Amelia begins to have visions at Vespers. I didn't know what Vespers was until I read the book. It is the time in the evening when good Catholics say their evening prayers. What appeared to be harmless, letting others know that Amelia was having visions of the future turns into tragedy. I won't let you know what the tragedy is, because you should read it for yourself. Amelia is staying with a cousin, Zora. The girls bond quickly and enjoy their season together. They both fall in love and help each other in their efforts with boys who are not totally appropriate for their station.The romance between Zora and Thomas seems more natural and less contrived. There has been a long time admiration of Thomas by Zora. Their relationship develops and is sweet. Thomas is the perfect gentleman. He does things the way that a good boy in Victorian times should. Amelia on the other hand falls for a struggling artist, Nathaniel. He is penniless and way beneath her station. Their relationship is literally a whirlwind. (You will understand if you read or have read the book.)The book is set in the United States in the Victorian Era. I found Saundra Mitchell's details of the time period to be fascinating. She did a great job in describing the feel of the time and even in describing a corset.If you like historical fiction with a little bit of a paranormal element. You would enjoy this book. Just be prepared to try to put the pieces of the puzzle together at the beginning.
pacey1927 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I love picking up a random book and finding out to my surprise that I love it. This is what happened when I read "The Vespertine" recently. I actually received an arc copy of the follow up novel "The Springsweet" which sounded amazing. I wanted to dig right into that one and then I realized it was a sequel. I just don't care to read books out of order so I immediately purchased "The Vespertine" and began to read it once it arrived. I read a lot of YA paranormal but not a lot of historical novels, which these books are. I immediately found myself immersed in the world of Baltimore in 1889. Amelia's brother has sent her to Baltimore for the season. Hopefully Amelia will find a proper gentleman to marry. She immediately befriends her cousin Zora and then promptly falls for a completely unproper marriage prospect named Nathaniel. Nathaniel is an artist, a dreamer and not one of their circle. I found this story entertaining enough and that was before the paranormal aspects became involved. At dusk each night, Amelia finds she can see visions of the future. At first its all games and fun. It is a social advantage to Zora and Amelia to visit and share these fortunes. But when she starts to see dark visions, the town becomes very unhappy with her.Wow, wow, wow. I loved the setting and adored the characters. I had some twists figured out before they happened but there were MANY others that I never saw coming. I found some daring choices that the author made to be completely heartbreaking. I enjoyed the day to day activities and seeing how parties and dances happened in this time period. One thing is for sure and that is that teenage girls a hundred plus years ago were still at heart teenage girls. They want to be pretty, socially acceptable, and they want to flirt and catch the eyes of a handsome boy. There were more challenges presented to them to find a proper marriage partner though. The paranormal plot was just icing on this cake. I would have enjoyed the story even without it, although things wouldn't have unfolded the way they did. I loved Amelia but I have to admit I only 'liked' Nathaniel. He didn't impress me as much as he probably should have. I really liked Zora's beau Thomas though.I highly recommend this story and I am already reading "The Springsweet". I think this author is a talent and I can't wait to see if she releases more stories in this series.