Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

I’ve been sitting here for a little while now trying to pull my thoughts together regarding Saundra Mitchell’s “The Vespertine”. I just have some very mixed feelings (mostly good though) and I’m trying to put it all together. Well, okay, that and I am totally distracted by Facebook/Twitter and was futzing around on there for awhile too.

Let’s try something a little new – a review in list format! I know, not terribly creative, but eh. I’m still finding my footing here in regards to long form reviews (come on, my name on is “shortandsweet” for a REASON. That’s how I was reviewing over there). Give a newbie a break, okay?

Things I liked:
  • Time Period – Despite being a big fan of historical literature, I tend to gravitate towards 1820s and earlier. I haven’t read much in the Victorian time period and it was a refreshing new world to explore.
  • Romance – You could feel the electricity crackling between our dashing, not-so-gentle leading man and Amelia. Ms. Mitchell did a fantastic job at explaining the naughtiness behind some of their actions that readers might not understand if they aren’t familiar with the time period.
  • With that, her explanations had a pretty nice balance in the behavior department. She explained without bogging down the plot with long-winded essays about why things were the way they were. On occasion I got a little lost in the customs of the time period and had to stop to hash over what I had just read. I don’t think that was the fault of Ms. Mitchell though. I think it was a combination of the formatting of the ARC (one of the disadvantages to reading ARCs) and my sleepiness when reading last night.
  • Paranormal/mystical aspect – Nice change of pace from vampires, angels, and zombies – OH MY!
  • Fast moving plot – despite taking place in a time period where things moved very slowly for women, she kept the pacing moving right along which I appreciated. It could have easily gotten pokey and Ms. Mitchell did a great job preventing that from happening.
Things I didn’t like:
  • At times, I got lost with the secondary and outlying characters. There were a lot of names involved and assumed familiarities that had me lost for a moment. Could be my fault, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
  • I would have liked the climax and afterwards to have been a little slower. It felt really rushed and didn’t give me enough time to experience what Amelia was going through. I wanted to feel emotionally moved, started to, and then BOOM the book was over.
  • The title – okay. I get it, but the book in general could have used an explanation as to what the word “vespers” meant to Amelia. Maybe I lead a sheltered life, but I thought vespers referred to a prayer service in Catholicism, not just the time of day when the sun sets?
I really enjoyed “The Vespertine”, despite my moments of confusion, which again, could be completely my fault and not the fault of the author’s. Sometimes, I get so involved in a book that I start speed reading and when you combine that with sleepiness, things can get a wee bit jumbled. I would recommend this to anyone who likes historical YA fiction. It does have paranormal/mystical elements, but it’s light on the paranormal, heavy on the historical. If you have a problem with historical fiction, then you should probably skip this one. You really have to accept the time period and its customs to fully enjoy Ms. Mitchell’s lovely story.

"The Vespertine" is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They provided me with an advance reader's copy. It is scheduled to be released in March of this year.


  1. great review, I felt the same about Vespertine, thanks for commenting on my blog, I really like yours :)

  2. Aw thanks! :) I just started following yours. Feel free to follow back. I'd appreciate it.

  3. I actually like the bullet point review style. I've not been keeping up with all your reviews (Emily!), so the bullets helped me read quickly! Yay!

  4. Great! I really enjoyed writing the review that way, so maybe I'll stick with it :)

  5. I need to get to this one soon.

  6. Pam, you definitely do! :) I look forwarding to reading your review.


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