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.
Why don't more people write about this? I think one of the most compelling things about the Victorian time period is this fascination with those who claim they could access the spirit world. I actually found a lot of parallels in this book with Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, where you don't know if she's acting, if she's psychotic, or psychic. Except here you do know - but there's a similarity in the portrayal of the audience. People used to pay to see psychics and fortune tellers - they would put on a good show and the audience would leave feeling like they just saw something extraordinary. I'm so glad that this social aspect has finally been drawn into young adult literature.
Amelia has powers that fit well into this spirituality craze, but they're actually real. I think they get mistaken for this theatricality that would draw people in. One of the things I wish had been explained or explored more was where these powers come from - I wanted to know more. I also wish there'd been more of a line drawn between the fakes with parlor tricks and this real talent she had.
This book felt like a great representation of the time period - it was a little like reading something someone from the time period might have written. It also contains great echoes of Victorian literature (which I absolutely adore) - you have both country and city representations and the community plays a very important role. I also enjoyed the fact that this was a middle-class representation - allowing a more extensive view of different classes - and allowing more freedom for some misbehavior, which naturally makes it much more fun. I also loved that the madwoman in the attic was drawn upon in a certain aspect.
I did love The Vespertine, but I wanted more. I wanted more explanation, more detail. I wanted more time with the boy, more time with her friends. I wanted to explore her talents a bit more. I am very excited about the companion novel, Springsweet, which is due for release on April 17, 2012. The Springsweet follows Amelia's cousin, Zora, from Baltimore to Oklahoma. I'm excited about this for two reasons - 1) I can't wait to see Saundra Mitchell's portrayal of late 19th century Oklahoma and 2) I loved Zora much more than Amelia - she was the one who instigated any misbehavior - and I can't wait to know more about her and where her story is headed.
Anyways - I definitely recommend The Vespertine if you like historical fiction, Victorian classics, or even if you just like fantasy - it's definitely worth it!