Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Review of The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
The Vespertine is set in 1889 Baltimore, where our protagonist, Amelia, is sent by her brother, August, to find a suitable husband. There, she stays with the Stewards and quickly finds herself friends with Zora Steward.
There, she also develops her inexplicable power to foresee the future. Word of her skill spreads, and soon she's sought after to tell fortunes. But when one of her darkest premonitions comes to pass, people have to wonder, does Amelia see these events, or cause them?
There are also interludes in the story which detail Amelia's life back with her brother. This effectively foreshadows an event that will drive her from Baltimore, which compliments her own power of premonitions: though she never foresees her own future, the story does.
The first thing I noticed about The Vespertine was how the prose is written in the language one would have used in 1889. The setting felt extremely well researched and believable - what I love in historical fiction.
In The Vespertine, also, the paranormal aspect is subtle, and takes a backseat to the romantic aspect. The romance itself added to the believability of the setting, in that it followed the social rules of course of the time.
If there was anything about The Vespertine that I less than loved, it would have been how long it took to get to the complication. But with Saundra Mitchell's beautiful way of storytelling and world building I would be lying if I said the lead up to the complication was at all dull.
The ending, without spoiling it, really hit the spot. It left just enough loose ends to maintain its mystique and tied up just enough to not be open-ended.
I give The Vespertine 5 out of 5, and now go off to add The Springsweet, the upcoming companion, to my already long TBR list.