Welcome to my stop on the Turn the Page Tours Vespertine blog tour! Read on for my review of VESPERTINE, my favorite quotes, and more about the author and a chance to enter a giveaway for your own copy!
The dead of Loraille do not rest.
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a thrilling new YA fantasy about a teen girl with mythic abilities who must defend her world against restless spirits of the dead.
I’ve read Rogerson’s previous novels and enjoyed them both; I’m a fan of the atmospheric and magical feel her stories have, so I was excited to read her newest novel. While VESPERTINE takes a shift from the fae and magical spells that filled her last two novels that were wonderful homage for book-lovers and fae-lovers alike, it was a fun and exciting new direction for this author!
To start, VESPERTINE feels like a wonderful blend between historical fiction and fantasy. The loose inspiration of Joan of Arc was a super fun and interesting backstory for the book, and the vaguely historical setting that influenced the worldbuilding created a story that let me easily imagine the world and allowed the narrative to take flight without me doing too much legwork.
Artemisia was an amazing protagonist, as have been the other leads in Rogerson’s novels. Artemisia has a strong, unique voice and I loved watching her growth throughout the novel. One aspect I appreciated specifically was the portrayal of childhood trauma; I don’t want to give anything away, so all I’ll say is that I think the way it was addressed in the book was done so beautifully. Particularly the way that this is demonstrated to readers as we see the way Artemisia thinks, contrasted against the way other characters interact with her and understand events and appropriate reactions to them. Vague, I know, but I think Rogerson does a wonderful job portraying how trauma can affect the way we view things and think about things — oftentimes without our awareness.
Beyond Artemisia, I loved many of the side characters as well! A lot of time was spent on developing their storylines as well, and many of them were much more than met the eye (or Artemisia’s eyes at least!). My favorite was, of course, the revenant. I love nothing more than a snarky sidekick/companion, and many of the revenant’s one-liners had me laughing out loud. Once again, I won’t say more so I don’t spoil anything, but if you enjoy a sarcastic and funny companion-figure you should definitely read this book!
“I would be interested to know how many hours daily you nuns spend inhaling incense. Clearly, it has an effect on your brains.”I had to include at least one snarky line from our favorite revenant — half of my favorite quotes were lines similar to this one (they all made me laugh).
The characters of VESPERTINE are the center of this book, but that doesn’t mean the plot wasn’t just as engaging! There are quite a few twists — I did gasp out loud at least once — and even more mysteries that unfold as you read on. Some of the fight scenes and moments where Artemisia used her/the revenant’s power truly had my heart beating faster, and I have a feeling I’d be experiencing the same awe as the character’s around her if I saw Artemisia in action.
Though I’ll be the first to say I LOVE a good romance in a fantasy novel, I actually really appreciated that this book had more focus on Artemisia and her personal growth and friendships. Though the ending leaves the door open for future books and romance, I think VESPERTINE felt perfect as it was and I think the journey of healing and discovery Artemisia and her companions embarked on didn’t feel at all lacking because there wasn’t a romance.
“I caught a glimpse of someone inside as I passed…it was Mother Katherine, her downy white head bent in prayer. She looked frail. The observation swooped down on me without warning. Somehow, I hadn’t noticed how old she’d gotten–it was as though I had wiped the dust from a painting and seen it clearly for the first time in years, after ages of simply forgetting to look.”This was another of my favorite quotes — I think it’s representative of the beautiful, understated introspectiveness of VESPERTINE. The book might be filled with action, powerful magic, and sword fights, but there are also these quiet moments that speak about growing up, coming to terms with things that may scare us, and learning to recognize and listen to our own feelings and understandings of the world around us.
In conclusion, VESPERTINE was an entertaining and engaging read that had me rooting for Artemisia and her companions, had me on the edge of my seat, and made me feel All The Things as Artemisia worked through some of her trauma and navigated new experiences with friendship, admiration, and newfound power. A great read if you’re looking for something spooky for fall, a fantasy read without a romance-focus, and some bad-ass characters!
My Rating: Four Stars!
Margaret Rogerson is the author of the New York times bestsellers An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses. Visit her at MargaretRogerson.com.