Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m sharing my review of Vespertine, which I read in October and absolutely adored. It’s by Margaret Rogerson, the same author of Sorcery of Thorns, which I read earlier this year and equally loved. It’s always good to find an author who becomes an auto buy author for you, and she has absolutely become one for me.
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.
As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe — if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.
I know I don’t generally do star ratings on my posts… But this was a five star read. No hesitations. I said to my husband when discussing it, that it was just utterly perfect. I could have quite happily listened to it being double the length, or a never ending podcast. That old sneaky “#1” has popped up next to the title on Good Reads, and I’m really hoping this means we’re going to get a sequel.
Artemisia is possibly one of my favourite protagonists ever, and I don’t say that lightly. She is awkward, uncomfortable, dealing with trauma and feel more comfortable with animals than people. Same here, girl. When she takes on the Revenant, she has no idea how to weild it, but, having been possessed as a girl by a lower level spirit, she can prehaps control it a bit more than someone else would have been able to.
It’s a very individual idea of a story; the “enforced contact of enemies” trope is always a fun one… but normally those are two seperate people. Here, we have one person, and an extra spirit living in her body. Most of the conversations in the book are between Artemisia and the Revenant, and while the Revenant might not be someone you’d trust, the character was written with such wit that I genuinely laughed out loud at many of its comments. It’s always wanting to kill someone, obviously.
Because of the enforced contact situation, they have to work out how to handle one another, and much to the Revenant’s surprise, Artemisia takes an unsual, blasphamous route: she works with it.
I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was so well done. The characters all felt well defined, and the different voices allowed you to follow the conversations easily without them feeling forced. It manages to be both relaxaing and requiring high levels of attention because there is just so much going on in it that you won’t want to miss.
There’s so much I want to say about this book that would lead to spoilers, but if you’re looking for strong characters, who are learning to heal, who learning to be better people, and a damn good story that will have you feeling every emotion going, you will not regret reading this book. It’s out now, and Artemisia is just waiting to take you on her journey.
Thanks for stopping by today for this very enthusiastic review! Be sure to come back for daily posts.