The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
I was thinking three stars throughout the book. The ending brought it up to about 3.5 stars for me. .
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.
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for making a galley available and approving my request to read it.