Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review: The Vespertine - Saundra Mitchell

Synopsis: The summer of 1889 is the one between childhood and womanhood for Amelia van den Broek - and thankfully, she's not spending it at home in rural Maine. She's been sent to Baltimore to stay with her stylish cousin, Zora, who will show her all the pleasures of city life and help her find a suitable man to marry.

With diversions ranging from archery in the park to dazzling balls and hints of forbidden romance, Victorian Baltimore is more exciting than Amelia imagined. 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. Newly dubbed "Maine's Own Mystic," Amelia is suddenly quite in demand.

However, her attraction to Nathaniel, an artist who is decidedly outside of Zora's circle, 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. And while she has no trouble seeing the futures of others, she cannot predict whether Nathaniel will remain in hers.

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 the dark portents, but the cause of them.

Review: The Vespertine is strange and a little hard to follow. This isn't because it is poorly written, because it isn't. The writing style is pretty and well-done, conjuring tasteful and beautiful pictures of dresses, scenery, and people. But with the visions and other otherworldly elements, it feels very surreal and dreamlike, and sometimes I was not certain that I read it correctly. It just barely worked for this particular story.

What surprised me most was how clean the story was. The entire time, from the very beginning to the very end, I expected someone to sleep with someone else (the main characters, mostly), but this never happens, and instead the Author just spends a lot of time describing Nathaniel and how his touch makes Amelia feel, which gets tiring in its own right, but it could have been worse. I admit that I hoped Nathaniel would end up being some creep with a villainous agenda of his own, because I found Nathaniel to be very disturbing and untrustworthy from the beginning, but as time wore on, I grew to like him a little bit more, though I was never fully supportive of his and Amelia's love. It reminded me far too much of the bizarre and rather wrong relationship of Cathy and Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights. However, I believe that the Author intended that, so I was able to accept it.

Overall, I found The Vespertine interesting, and I will probably buy it, though it is not at the top of my list. I liked the writing style enough to ignore the majority of the storyline. I would neither recommend nor dissuade someone from reading The Vespertine, but I would warn them that it doesn't have much of a storyline.

Overall Rating: 

Others in This Trilogy:
1)The Vespertine
2)The Springsweet

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