Reviews for Vespertine


Booklist Reviews 2011 March #2
This historical paranormal romance, taking place in 1889 Baltimore, is equal parts vivid period detail, gothic melodrama, and foreboding premonitions coming true. Country girl Amelia van den Broek is sent to Baltimore to find a husband. At first self-conscious of her rustic upbringing, Amelia adapts to the city's odd mix of repressive social conventions and greater freedoms with the help of her fashionable cousin, Zora. Her fevered attraction to Nathaniel, an artist, and the increasing frequency of sunset visions complicate her debut. These predictions become a popular novelty among friends, then strangers, and her secret romance with Nathaniel progresses apace; but a series of disturbing visions and Nathaniel's own enigmatic connections sow the seeds of her inevitable downfall. Beginning after Amelia has been returned home ruined, this is an absorbing tale of a headstrong and passionate (but not anachronistically so) woman seeking her future. Amelia's friendship with Zora is delightful, a light point in an otherwise dark story. Although the language is occasionally overwrought, it fits the period and the overstimulating nature of doomed love. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Sent to Baltimore in 1889 to enjoy the season and to find a husband, Amelia instead discovers a gift for seeing visions--and begins a romance with an inappropriate young man. Through Amelia's first-person narrative, readers navigate a world governed by etiquette and an equally inexplicable supernatural one. The atmosphere in this paranormal romance is eerie and appealing. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 February #2
Sixteen-year-old Amelia travels from Maine to Baltimore to find a husband in 1889, never expecting to end up by destroying her own friends in this historical supernatural romance. Amelia learns quite by accident that at sunset, or Vespers, she sees visions of the future. At first it's a game, with predictions of pretty new dresses and desirable dancing partners. Eventually, though, Amelia's visions become darker. She delights her friends when she tells of good fortune, but when tragedy strikes, they blame her. Meanwhile Amelia has met Nathaniel, a poor but talented artist whom she knows can never be a suitable husband yet to whom she's immensely attracted. No wonder. It turns out that Nathaniel has a supernatural talent of his own. Mitchell depicts Victorian middle-class society with real flair. Her descriptions of the girls ring vibrantly true. Readers see how they act and talk, how they worry about their dresses and their future husbands. The author takes a chance by using some antiquated language, but readers interested in the story should be able to follow the action with no difficulty. Both the forbidden romance and the Vespers visions work to keep readers' interest high. A nifty surprise ending ices the cake. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 April

Gr 9 Up--This is a lush, dark Southern Gothic novel written with a richness of language that nearly smothers the tale of magic and romance at its heart. In spring 1889, 17-year-old Amelia is sent from her small Maine town to spend the year in big-city Baltimore with the intention that she will behave as a proper young lady and meet an appropriate beau. Enter the mysterious, brooding artist Nathaniel (who is not "of their set"), a boy-crazy cousin, sumptuous fabrics and bodice-baring fashions, and top it all off with Amelia's newfound ability to see portents of the future in the setting sun. The protagonist is a bit of a wet dishrag, the dramatic tragedy that Mitchell's prose so direly portends is disappointingly tame, and the titillation doesn't go beyond searing smooches. But the pervasively descriptive and evocative language combines with period vocabulary and detail to create a mood piece one would never want to deny romance-pining schoolgirls, to wit: "Though I peered yet at the sky, a warm, ornate pattern traced my skin, the traverse of his glance." The book is similar in many ways--though more fantasy than horror, and of a different era--to Mary Hooper's Newes from the Dead (Roaring Brook, 2008).--Rhona Campbell, formerly at Washington, DC Public Library

[Page 180]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2011 June
In 1889, seventeen-year-old Amelia is sent from her village in Maine to stay with her cousin, Mrs. Stewart, in Baltimore so she can find a suitable match. Amelia quickly makes friends with Zora, the Stewarts' daughter, and joins Zora's circle of friends as they party, dance, practice archery, and consider whom they might marry. But it is Nathaniel Witherspoon, a young struggling artist paid to attend social events as a fourteenth member, who literally sweeps Amelia off her feet. For teens who enjoy gothic romances, there is much to savor, including the passionate, wild romance between Amelia and Nathaniel. The supernatural is manifested through Nathaniel's ability to appear as though through air and Amelia's visions during vespers, which to the delight of Zora and her friends, grows until she can predict the future. When tragedy strikes, Amelia is blamed for being a disruptive force and is said to be ruined by her acquaintance with Nathaniel. The gothic setting of an attic bedroom in Maine frames the beginning (a flashback) and end of the novel when Amelia is locked away by her brother. She is released by his wife, Lizzy, who, afraid of Amelia's visions, shuts her out of the house, leaving her to seek her own freedom Mitchell's story is written in an ornate style--sometimes overly so. But Amelia and Zora are appealing young women who enjoy breaking rules; and Mitchell delineates well their fateful fascination with the supernatural. This is a gothic novel appropriate for all teen collections.--Hilary Crew 4Q 5P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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