Title: The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
How I Read It: NetGalley ARC for Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 of 5
Synopsis: 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.
My Review: I went into this book with virtually no expectations and knowing little about it, I was simply drawn to the cover and went from there. Sometimes that practice can turn out pretty badly, but fortunately this turned out to be a great book and I really enjoyed it.
We open with a very mysterious setting - Amelia is clearly in distress, and we spend the rest of the book learning what got her to that point. It definitely pulled me in from the very beginning and if I'd had the time, I would have read this book in one sitting. I found the story to be so charming, and Amelia an adorable heroine, I really felt like I was pulled into this world and was having my own "season"!
And then we have Nathaniel...an exciting, prohibited painter who is definitely mysterious in all the right ways. How romantic it is to see this young man, unsuitable simply because he is of a lower class, follow his heart and help Amelia understand hers. Totally made me want to run out and fall in love with a painter!
I can't go without mentioning Amelia's visions, which are a very important piece of this story. It really made me think about what it would be like to have that kind of ability, and the burden it would present along with the fun that it might bring. We get a really good look at what a double edged sword this would be and I found myself asking if I would have gone mad, seeing whatever the gift presented with no choice for what kind of vision you would get.
There were some magical type elements that left me a bit confused, otherwise I definitely would have rated this one higher. This is the first of a series, so I'm hoping a later book will give us more information about some of the paranormal things that came into play as the story got on. So while I didn't love that aspect, I thought it worked really well as a historical piece, and I adored the descriptions of calling cards and the propriety that was expected during social interactions.
Overall, a fun read and I'd definitely recommend it to people. This would make a great beach or pool read!
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