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A Reader of Fictions: Ashes to the Wind/Roux Returns - Rachel Portman

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ashes to the Wind/Roux Returns - Rachel Portman

The Vespertine
The Vespertine, Book 1

Author: Saundra Mitchell
Pages: 293
ARC Acquired From: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Amelia lived a rather boring, country life in Maine until she was sent to spend a season with cousins in Baltimore. During this time, she was intended to meet a man of good station and get married. What she did instead was discover that she sees visions of the future, become famous/infamous for the former thing around Baltimore, behave rather indecently with a man who would not be a good marriageable prospect and ruin her reputation. Drama, drama, drama.

Review:
The Vespertine is one of those books that I cannot decide whether or not I liked it overall. I really thought the premise was interesting. I have always had a soft spot for high society/season things (I even made it through Godbersen's Luxe series). Plus, there's the magic element, which came off with a hint of magic realism (super cool). Still, there were other aspects that were less well done or just not fully used.

For instance, the opening chapter is pretty astounding. Amelia is shut up in a room for having brought shame upon herself and the family. Locked up by her own family. With that and the period piece element, I was thinking back on Wildthorn, although the books really are quite different. This chapter grabs the reader's attention and takes a powerful hold. You want to know all the gritty and dirty details about what Amelia has done. But that atmosphere never really comes back again.

What bugged me the most was how much like a trashy romance novel the story was at times (okay, only when Amelia is with her boy). Seriously, the dialog and descriptions would not be out of place in the latest Judith McNaught book. Plus, I never really got to liking Nathaniel (that's his name). Or mostly I just couldn't take him seriously, because he's such a stereotypical flirty bad boy leading her down a bad path in his introduction. Then, you get a description of him on a usual day: "His coat was cut in green and gold tartan, and he'd pinned the pocket with a nosegay of tangerine silk" (73). Yikes! That's some color combo.

The Vespertine makes a nice change from some of the more typical teen fare. Some important issues are brought up, along with magic, love, romance and ruination. Not for everyone, but some will enjoy this late nineteenth century romp.

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