Book Review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Original Cover
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.
New Cover

Release Date:  March 7, 2011
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group:  Young Adult
Pages:  304
Source:  NetGalley
This book was a little confusing for me at the beginning.  I didn't realize that the prologue happens after the events of the rest of the book, and that everything following the prologue is a flashback.  

Amelia is sent to her aunt and uncle's in London for her debut into society.  She and her cousin Zora meet Nathanial at a dinner party and Amelia is instantly drawn to him.   Amelia is supposed to meet a suitable young man to marry, and Nathaniel is a starving artist who makes money by being paid to attend dinner parties as a "fourteenth."  A fourteenth is a guest paid to round out the numbers in a dinner party.  It was considered unlucky to have thirteen guests in those days.  

Amelia starts to have visions of the future, but only during the sunset hours.  She cannot control the visions, and she and Zora get pretty enterprising and gain entry into some of the most desirable society company by using Amelia as a sort of fortune-teller.  Amelia can feel Nathaniel in some of her visions and learns some surprising truths about both herself and Nathaniel. 

I love stories set in this time period, and The Vespertine was no exception.  The lives and expectations of women in that time never fail to enthrall me.  I enjoyed this book, especially the ending.  I would recommend it to fans of YA and fans of historical fiction.  

Just One Gripe:
The paranormal aspect of the story was a little weak and could have been better fleshed out in my opinion.

The Best Thing About This Book:
Forbidden romance is my Achilles' heel.  The love story was my favorite part of this book.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Ending: 4/5
Total Score:  16/25


  1. Forbidden romance is my weakness too! I like the sound of this one, and I will be requesting from Netgalley at some point. I'll be mindful of the prologue, so thanks for pointing that out! Did you see the final cover for this one? Saundra Mitchell revealed it this week on her site.

  2. Great honest review! I've been dying to read this one, but I'll be sure to keep my expectations in check. The paranormal should make the story - not be on the backburner, imo :)

  3. This is on my to be read list. I think they have decided on a new cover for it though. The new cover is so much nicer than this one, in my opinion. Glad you posted about the prologue. Thanks.

  4. This seems pretty interesting. What did you think of the romance? You say she was drawn to Nathaniel. Was it a reasonably developed romance or like a bam!-I'm-in-love-with-you romance?

  5. Awesome review.

    I hate prologues. I always avoid them. They either spoil things for me or confuse me.

  6. Alison---it's a bam! romance but well-done. I'm no fan of love at first sight but I did like this love story a lot.

  7. I absolutely love the cover, but I guess it isn't as strong as I thought it would be. :/

  8. I actually liked the second cover more.

    Reminded me of a Vampire Diaries episode with Katherine running away from the Elders....

    Romance is my guilty pleasure in life. Got to have something right ;)

  9. I got this from Netgalley too and hope to read it soon. Thanks for an honest review, Kelli.

  10. What?! The book was a flashback for the prologue. Odd.

    And LOL, "Forbidden romance is my Achilles' heel." Yeah, I feel the same. I don't read too much historical fiction, but I may have to give this one a try.


  11. I agree with you - I found the prologue REALLY confusing - I said so in my review! Lookipg forward to it's release. ^^

  12. I agree with you about the paranormal aspects. I was very confused by them.


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