07 November 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

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 feel really sad about this book because it was beautiful and well written and yet I didn’t like it at all. I think it’s really a romance book with an emphasis on historical society and a small dash of paranormal, and romance and societal intrigues really don’t do it for me. It’s too bad, though, because the book deserves some love. Amelia is a character that draws you in and makes you want to understand her. She’s in a new place and experiencing society for the first time, and Mitchell does a great job of showing you life through her eyes and with her particular viewpoint to color the explanations. Zora is a perfect foil, adventurous enough to draw Amelia into some plot-twisting situations as well as encourage her romance. I didn’t like the two paramours, Nathaniel or Thomas, as much as I did the girls. They felt a little flat and the romances seemed based on fluff rather than a solid grounding of connection, however, Mitchell does provide a seeming that this is how romance is done in the world of 1889 society so it seems less realistic and more juvenile and sad. I was a little skeptical of the twist ending, it seemed a little too abrupt and manufactured, but the journey of the book was so good that I’m willing to excuse it. I just hope this book finds love with others, because it deserves some love but I just can’t give it.

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