BFTA Review: Saundra Mitchell – The Vespertine


Title: The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Series: The Vespertine #1
Harcourt Children’s Books
Rating: 4/5

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. (

First, let me just say that I love the cover. Love, love, love.
Second, this is my second attempt at writing this review, since my computer seems to be hating me and ate the last one.
Finally, let’s get down to the actual review.
I’m really not much into historical fiction, so I nearly passed this one up on netgalley when it came across my screen. However, I went back and requested it, because the blurb sounded so intriguing. I was not disappointed.
The plot jumps back and forth between current time, the fall of 1889, and the past, the summer of the same year. Initially, I had no idea what was happening, but once the book got past the first chapter and I realized that it begins at the end, I was okay. I was even better once I got to the meat of the story, Amelia’s summer with her cousin, Zora, in Baltimore.
I detested Amelia’s brother, August, immediately, and I was kind of indifferent towards his wife, Lizzy, although she does what she can to protect Amelia from August, and even is friendly towards her, despite whatever happened the past summer.
It isn’t until I got to the real story, the summer of 1889 in Baltimore, that I started to get a real feel for Amelia and her world, and I was glad to see Amelia rebelling in her little ways.
When Nathaniel was introduced as the “Fourteenth” guest to a dinner party, I was a little thrown, but got over it when Amelia was so taken with him. I was taken with him, too. He’s a bit of a rebel, and he doesn’t really fit in with the elite, but he’s being paid to be at this dinner party. But what I really loved most about him was that he eats with his “sinister hand”. I think I read that sentence ten times because it amused me so much, mostly because I’m left-handed and I know how frustrating it can be, sitting next to someone right-handed at dinner…
Although Amelia didn’t seem to mind brushing hands with Nathaniel every now and then, which was probably scandalous back in those days. I loved her little acts of rebellion. They’re tiny, but they’re definitely there, and it made me like her even more.
The only thing I didn’t understand was whether Amelia had this “power” before she came to Baltimore. She is startled when she sees her first vision just before the dinner party, but I never figured out what triggered her power in the first place.
The story itself moves at a slightly slow pace. There’s a lot of build-up to what the summary promises as a dark ending, but the ending itself happens so quickly that the reader almost gets whiplash. I had to re-read a few passages several times before I finally got a grasp of what was happening.
Overall, I really loved the book, and I’ll be purchasing it when it comes out.

A digital galley was generously provided to me by the publisher for review via

Originally published 06 February 2011.


One thought on “BFTA Review: Saundra Mitchell – The Vespertine

  1. Hmm. I don’t like books that give me whiplash, but otherwise this book sounds like a great read… and I’ve just finished really a fantastic Historical YA read so I’m in the mood for another. 🙂 Cool review!

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