Monday, March 07, 2011

Review: The Vespertine

The Vespertine
Saundra Mitchell
2011; Harcourt; ISBN 978-0-547-48247-7 (hardcover)

Summary:  Amelia is excited to travel to the city of Baltimore.  She's supposed to be learning how to be a lady, in order to attract a good husband whose position can assist her brother.  Once she arrives, she quickly becomes friends with her cousin Zora and even meets a young artist named Nathaniel.  And in Baltimore, Amelia discovers a strange talent: in the moments during sunset, she can see the future.  At first, Amelia doesn't see the harm in using this gift.  Yet as her visions grow threatening, and her love for Nathaniel outstrips all propriety, Amelia will discover that the golden light of sunset only leads to darkness.

An engaging combination of historical fiction, romance, and the paranormal, The Vespertine examines the perils of the choices made by Amelia.  Like many teens, she uses her visions to help her friends and meet new people.  Yet when one of her visions comes true, Amelia's new life begins to unravel.  The Baltimore setting lends a moody and atmospheric air to the novel, giving extra weight to the spiritualism craze in the late 1800s as shown in the story.  Mitchell's second novel shows a talent for bringing history to life.  For readers who enjoyed We Hear the Dead by Dianne Salerni or Distant Waves: A Story of the Titanic by Suzanne Weyn, The Vespertine will be well-received.

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