TW: self-harm, child neglect, PTSD
*I received an e-ARC of Vespertine in exchange for an honest review. A big thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for giving me the opportunity to read this book early!
I *may* have squealed a bit when I got the email saying I was approved to read this book early! I absolutely loved A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson and was super exited for her upcoming book, Vespertine. And let me tell you – IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT! I seriously can (and have, sorry Mitch) ramble on forever about how much I adored this book, but I hope I can keep my thoughts neat and concise here.
Vespertine follows Artemisia, a young woman living in a remote convent and training to become a Grey Nun. All of the women living at this convent have the Sight, a gift which allows them to see the spirits of those whose souls weren’t able to pass on, causing them to become hostile creatures that are a threat to the living. When her convent is attacked by soldiers posessed by spirits, Artemisia suddenly finds herself weilding a powerful reclic, filled with a powerful spitit called a Revenant. Using the Revenant’s powers, she has to investigate what caused the attack, and who is behind the revival of old magic of Loraille.
First, I need to rant about the characters of Vespertine. I have characters I really like from books, but it has been a long time since a character really truly stuck out to me that I had to declare them as my favourite character forever. To me, that character was the Revenant. 98% of quotes I wished I could highlight and save were Revenant quotes, and you know how people always type “lol” but aren’t actually laughing? The Revenant had me full on cackling at many points throughout the book. But also- and I think anyone else who has worked in customer service will agree wholeheartedly with this- almost everything the Revenant says about humanity really resonated with me after years working in retail.
I couldn’t help but love Artemisia as well. Her transformation throughout the book was gradual as she started to acknowledge and work through her trauma and I felt it was really well-written. All she wants is to live a quiet life that involves as little interactions with others as possible, all while simultaneously wanting a little company (something she gets early on in the book, though unwanted at first). Many of her interactions are awkward and hilarious, though as a socially awkward person myself, I felt seen. She really reminded me of Hana from Fruits Basket, whose actions were often misinterpreted as hostile or scary. Finally, I also wanted to comment on Artemisia’s animal naming abilities, something I and all my former pet fish named Glub Glub (RIP) wish I possessed.
I also adored the setting and world-building. The world was so beautifully described that I could easily imagine myself walking alongside Artemisia. One thing I was surprised about, but that didn’t take away from how I felt about the book, was the lack of romance. This was only a surprise as Rogerson’s two previous books had romance in it. There are hints of potential for it for some of the side characters (or at least, what I thought might be hints… I’m pretty dense in the romance department), but the main focus is more on Artemisia’s relationship with the Revenant and with herself.
This was a book that I struggled a lot with towards the end, but only because I couldn’t wait to finish it and at the same time, didn’t want it to end. I’m so happy it’s a series and seriously can’t wait to read the finished book! Vespertine comes out on October 5, 2021 and can be pre-ordered from your prefered retailer. If you’re looking for a special edition, Owlcrate currently has one up on their site and The Bookish Box will be doing an edition for their October box. I have also heard some rumors that Fairyloot will be doing one too!
UPDATE: Fairyloot has announced their edition and it is STUNNING! I’m a little obsessed with it.