Hello, I’m Heather. I am a mom of two boys, a wife of one man, and a lover of people in general. I am a Mary Kay sales director by trade and a book addict by choice. My degree is in English Education and I don’t think I have ever really outgrown YA lit!
I have known Dani, the creator of this blog, for about 10 years now…we were actually roommates in college. We have always connected over our choices of books and so this is the perfect creative outlet for our mutual passions. As a guest reviewer on Refracted Light, I will share my thoughts on books I read. Please take my reviews for what they are…my opinion. =) Everyone loves different books for different reasons. My reviews are just the way a book spoke to me. I welcome discussion so please let me know what you think! Now onto my first review! =)
The Vespertine is set in the spring through fall of 1889. The story centers on 16 year old Ameila van den Broek who has been sent from her home in Maine to stay with a cousin for the summer in Baltimore, MD in the hopes she will learn how to be a proper Victorian lady and find a suitable match of a husband and thus raise her family’s social standing. While in Baltimore she finds herself cast into visions full of glimpses of the future at dusk during the vespers and falling into a romance with Nathaniel Witherspoon that is anything but what her family is looking for. At first her visions are very inconsequential and as they come true, she is sought out to tell fortunes and grows to be quite popular. However, things take a turn for the worse as Amelia’s visions become more and more dark and her adventurous romance with Nathaniel becomes dangerously close to going public. Tragedy is brewing right under the surface as her visions begin to point to her as the cause of the fulfilled visions rather than just the bearer of them.
This is a deliciously unique novel. I have never read a book quite like Mitchell’s The Vespertine…and that’s saying something! It is so delightfully different that I may have found a favorite. =)
I was almost completely taken off-guard by the absolutely beautiful prose that Mitchell uses to cast you completely into Victorian Baltimore. This has been tried before and most often it fails. Most of the time trying to write in the style of another era comes across as forced, verbose, and really hurts the pacing of the story in general. Thankfully this is not the case in The Vespertine. Mitchell expertly weaves her story in such a way that it is almost like Amelia walks into your home and tells you her story and therefore the classic style prose is seamless and natural.
The descriptions and development of Amelia’s character draws you into this setting and you are able to walk the streets of Baltimore in 1889 with Amelia and the rest…even if you did not grow up in Maryland as I did! While Amelia is immature, reckless, and at times selfish, you love her dearly and simply want to protect her from herself. The only weak part of the book was that I wish I could have gotten to know Nathaniel a bit more. The moments you see him, you love him and know that he is more than he appears, however, I wish I could have seen more. He is secretive and elusive and intoxicating to Amelia, but we only get glimpses here and there. This book has a little bit of fun for everyone. It is paradoxically darkly tragic and brightly hopeful. I highly recommend it!
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Title: The Vespertine
Series: The Vespertine (Book #1)
Published: March 7th 2011 by Harcourt Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover, 293 pages