Harcourt Children's Books
March 7, 2011
Over the summer of 1889, Amelia van der Broek, a slightly rebellious teenager from Maine is sent to Baltimore. New to the city, she's eager to take in the sights, sounds, people--and the education she'll now be getting along with her Baltimore companion and cousin Zora Steward.
The girls enjoy typical lives of whispered gossip, dress fittings and afternoons in the park until it's discovered that at sunset, Amelia is able to experience visions. These visions, seemingly of the future, are never focused on something she can control, only, usually, someone. But soon they make her all the rage of their social circle in a society enthralled by mysticism and those claiming to call upon the spirits.
Zora and Amelia have more than their fair share of callers for the prophecies, but also someone, each, for love. Amelia's interest is quickly and intensely drawn to Nathaniel, an artist so far below her own social standing, to even notice him is forbidden.
With her interest and attention in Nathaniel only growing and a particularly dark vision just waiting to come to fruition, Amelia's place in Baltimore is in jeopardy.
I loved Saundra Mitchell's Shadowed Summer so I was really, really looking forward to reading this, her second book. I don't know if I enjoyed it quite as much but I do know that The Vespertine makes it quite obvious that she is a very talented writer. Not only was The Vespertine set in 1899 but there was a lot of the society from that time brought in to the story and used to enrich it and make it a more enthralling read.
I loved the relationship between Zora and Amelia (it reminded me a bit of the relationship in Prada and Prejudice between Callie and Emily, actually, their obvious closeness and friendship but with one of the girls being more reserved and the other wanting to push the rules more).
It was really great to see the girls' friendships (with the other girls, too) included and the different times Amelia had her 'readings' included because it really built up Amelia and how everyone in Baltimore saw her.
I think that I missed some of the developments between Nathaniel and Amelia, or they just didn't click for me because that was really the only part of the story that I would say was a 'negative' for me.
The Vespertine is a case of a novel being set at a specific time, involving specific characters, and following a specific plot that are all there because they go together. Nothing about this novel seemed to have been 'just because' it's a historical fiction novel that feels incredibly real because of just how well all of the different elements work together.
(read via NetGalley)