Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell - ARC tour

  Summary (courtesy of 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.

And here's what I thought:   The cover has a quote from Aprilynne Pike, "A rich historical novel of otherworldly power and forbidden romance."  That does sum it up pretty nicely.  Mitchell's writing is rich, the story is imaginative and well-done, and the historical details are accurate.   I did appreciate that the details in this story were completely appropriate to the time period, although I think there are some things that will make more sense if you know a bit about the social customs of the time, the fashions, etc.  

Amelia's voice is quite clear in this book, and the way that she thinks and speaks is appropriate for the time period.  I sometimes needed to remind myself of that (since I don't read many historical novels), and would occasionally come across a phrase that gave me pause.  Example: "Rocking until the floor kept time, I drew a breath elongated." (p. 4) It's lovely, but different from the way most of us speak now.    I didn't mind her as a character, although I was more drawn to her cousin, Zora, who was a bit more outspoken (she seemed like a fun person to be around).  Amelia's love interest, Nathanial, is a rogue, full of mystery and charm, and as the story goes on, he becomes more intriguing.   I found that I wasn't as charmed by Amelia as I was by the story, and what was going to happen to her and the people around her.  

The definition of Vespertine is "...something of, relating to, or occurring in the evening."  This is completely true of Amelia, who experiences visions at sunset, and whose dalliances with Nathanial also occur in the evening.  It's an interesting idea, and I enjoyed how her visions were sparse at first, and then it seemed she could summon them at will.  Of course, with visions, and truth, come consequences, and this story is no different.  I was curious to see how the author would end the story, as the pace built up slowly, and I had a sense of foreboding.  This was a good story, and a good read, and although it's not the kind of story I read very often, I read it quickly because I was enjoying myself.   The writing was very fluid, and seemed carefully written -- I didn't doubt that these would be the words of Amelia.  Example: "When the storms came to Baltimore, they painted it with a laden, gray brush.  Though thunder rippled across the sky, it was no furious peal; it had no lightning to decorate it.  It was the sort of storm that wrapped a day in cotton, blunting mind and mood to a singular, dreary state."   Lovely.   

First sentences: "I woke in Oakhaven, entirely ruined.  The ballad notes of a quadrille lingered on my skin, remnants of a chaine 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."

Thoughts on the cover:  Interestingly, the book I received had one cover, and a sticker over part of it saying "All new cover - coming soon!".  The cover that will be on the book is the one I've shown here, and it's very eye-catching and pretty. 

Please note: I received this book are part of the Book it Forward ARC Tours from Dark Faerie Tales.  Thus, any quotes/pages may differ upon final publication.


Christina T said...

Thank you so much for including quotes from the book as part of your review. This sounds like a fantastic book and I can't wait to read it!

Anonymous said...

The Vespertine looks really good! Historical fantasy is an awesome sub-genre in my opinion.

Audra said...

I just had this as last week's Waiting on Wednesday -- your review has me pretty excited! I highlighted the cover as one of the reasons I'm so keen to get it -- what did the cover you have look like? Thanks for the honest thoughts!

Dazzling Mage said...

Ooh, I like the first line! And great review.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

How exciting to read a book that is not yet finalised. I hope that they do use this cover as it is pretty and quite mysterious.

Kristin said...

This one's in my TBR! I'm so glad to see you liked it! I'm your newest follower-stop by and say hi if you get a chance!


Patricia's Particularity said...

Thanks for stopping by! Love your review on this book. I've had it on my TBR list for a while now. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

<3 Patricia @ Patricia's Particularity
P.S. New Follower :)

AubrieAnne said...

The cover really caught me on this onw. Plus, I love stories from the late 1800s. Thanks for the review. I may have to go find this book!

Kulsuma said...

This does sound interesting and unique...but I'm always wary of books where the secondary characters are liked more than the main character. Great review!

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