Last day to enter my blog kick-off giveaway!! It ends tonight at 11:59 pm MST.
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: eGalley (courtesy of Netgalley)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: 03.21.11
It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.
The Vespertine began as a book after my own heart. The setting Saundra Mitchell created was historically accurate, and full of the intrigues of the time period. I loved the season, with its balls, gowns, and gossip. Mitchell did well, in created characters who chafed at the restraints of the time period, each reacting in different ways. Her writing was eloquent, her prose spectacular.
My interest was peaked when the book opens with the aftermath of scandal. It begins with the protagonist, who is sent home in shame and rumor, still pining after the boy she loves, hinting at the lives she ruined. The book then switches back and forth for a few chapters, between the end and the beginning of the story, before settling into telling the story. And that's where it started to feel like there wasn't much happening.
After so much juggling back and forth, dangling the scandal, the book begins setting up the events leading up to it...and not much happens. It was very slow-paced, and after about 100 pages, the only thing that kept me reading was Mitchell's beautiful prose. It picked up again in the last 50 pages, but then the ending felt very rushed, and didn't give as much explanation as I would have liked.
By the time I finished reading The Vespertine, There were a few other things that I did not enjoy. For one thing, think a lot more could have been done with Amelia's visions. They never seemed to progress. And--given the time period--I was waiting for more repercussions to come from her visions than there were. I don't think anyone would have thought them merely "parlor tricks", especially once people started showing up in numbers. On the other hand, the paranormal aspect of Nathaniel's ability was a little too much, and very confusing. There were no explanations as to why, or how, he has this ability, or even how it works. Without it--or at least with more explanation--I think the story would have flowed better. But as it is, I think it is unnecessary to the plot.
In the end, this book was very hard to give a rating. I did like it, and I very much enjoyed the writing. I found the friendship between Zora and Amelia endearing, and I smiled during the scenes when they talked at night. But then, I felt so disappointed in the plot. With such high quality writing, I had expected more from the book.
I don't have a Fever Meter for this Just made a fever meter for this, because I'm giving it a temp. in between 97.2, and 98.3. It's your pick which way the dice falls.
Read this if
...you like intrigue and scandal, you crave a glimpse into the future, and you want to lose yourself in a forbidden romance.