Reviews

Vespertine, by Margaret Rogerson

ristretto's review against another edition

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adventurous dark funny lighthearted mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.25

sagesten's review against another edition

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5.0

I received a digital arc from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Overall I loved this book so much. Compared to Margaret Rogerson’s other books, this one is so different in the sense that there was no romance. I was not expecting that when going in, but honestly this book didn’t need any. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect when I first started reading it. There was enough going on that I had no idea what was going on, but everything is later explained and everything made sense. I adored all of the characters in this book and I loved the friendships built throughout this story. The banter was everything and I loved reading the interactions between the revenant and Artemisia.
Overall I really loved this book. The plot, the characters, the ending, etc, we’re all fantastic. I loved how the author left it open for a sequel while still creating a satisfying ending to the book.

jasper_a's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional hopeful inspiring mysterious
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.75

NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME TO… oops, caps lock. I love Vespertine so much! Warrior nuns, hungry spirits, ancient relics… the world is old and lived-in, the magic system is fresh, and Artemisia is, well, Artemisia is the protagonist we all need right now. There's something about the creeping chill of Autumn that accentuates spoopy themes but honestly, this novel will hit at any time of year, every time. Promise.

sw33tkay's review against another edition

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4.0

This book! This concept!! Amazing! I’ll be honest Margaret Rogerson was already an auto buy author purely because of how beautiful their books are. I enjoyed an Enchantment of Ravens but I adored Vespertine! I read this book in a day and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s been a while since I picked up a YA Fantasy but gosh this was a brilliant place to do so! I loved the characters and their relationships. This concept would make a stellar Adult Fantasy but I’ll settle for YA. I can’t wait to see what Rogerson does with the rest of the series and you can’t bet that I’ll be buying every other book they come out with!

taylah's review against another edition

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medium-paced

4.5

heathwitch's review against another edition

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5.0

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Rogerson’s Sorcery of Thorns in 2019, and so it was with high hopes that I started Vespertine, her new novel (and, I believe, the first part of a series). I was not to be disappointed.

From the first pages I was fully immersed into this world where nuns train to serve the dead and dying — helping their souls to move on after death. However, they are also trained to deal with various spirits who did not get this kindness at the end of their life — maybe due to murder or battle, or illness in a remote village. These souls, depending on the manner of their death, become spirits with varying levels of ability to inflict harm on the living. The Grey Sisters, as the nuns are called, fight and release these spirits when necessary, with the more powerful nuns of their Order being able to wield relics left behind by the Saints — this may be a finger bone, or a mummified hand. Said relics contain the bound spirits of more powerful entities such as revenants, which, when released and used appropriately, can vanquish lower-level spirits intent on harming the living populace. This is a rare and potentially dangerous magic, and one that had me intrigued from the start.

Into this world we have Artemisia, who is training as a Grey Sister. Her hands are twisted and scarred from an incident in her childhood, and — along with her natural introversion — she is often the outsider. When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia has no choice but to taken up a relic herself and allow a revenant to possess her in order to defend her fellow sisters. In doing so, she invites the revenant into her mind, and must learn both how to overcome her avoidance of others and how to strike up a partnership with the revenant to the best of their own abilities and goals.

Artemisia ends up heading into the world outside her convent in order to find out who is behind the uptick in spirit activity all over the country, ranging from the harmless shades and wisps of the First Order of Spirits to the dreaded riveners of the Fourth Order or even the revenants of the Fifth Order. Her travels take her into the middle of battles and refugee camps, where her uneasy alliance with the revenant becomes in handy. And as she gets closer to the truth, more is revealed about her revenant, the history of Grey Sisters, and the impact and possibilities of magic. Add in politics, ace representation, reluctant heroes, betrayals, found family, and lots of twists, and you’re in for the ride of your life with this quick-paced, breathless story.

I loved this book. Artemisia is such a great heroine — she’s reluctant, a bit naïve, woefully untrained, sarcastic, and morally grey. Some of the things she does are awful, but they’re for the right reasons… Aren’t they?! The revenant is sulky and sassy all on his own, and downright scheming and manipulative, but also so very damaged from what has been done to him over the years. Marguerite is the strong, observant friend you never knew you needed, Jean the soldier with PTSD and a heart of gold, Charles the brave and valiant, and so many more. I thought the secondary characters were great foils to Artemesia and the revenant, whose name and history we eventually learn. And we must not forget the clever Trouble, whose appearances were pivotal.

This is a dark fantasy and does not shy away from that fact. It is eerie, creepy, and spooky. The atmosphere and heart-thudding fear are — at times — very real. As well as ghosts and spirits, we have a disabled protagonist with mental health issues, more mental health awareness and representation amongst the secondary characters, and questions about what constitutes good and evil, why we fight wars, and the fallout from such. There is obviously some influence from Catholicism here, too, ranging from the ideas of reliquaries, the entombing of important figures within altars, the censers and incenses, and so on. As a Witch, I adored the magic and supernatural aspects of this world and I am so, so very grateful that there will be (at least) a sequel.

After finishing the e-arc, I promptly bought the hardback edition and the FairyLoot exclusive edition as well! I loved this novel and it’s easily up there as one of the best reads of the year. In fact, I thought I’d already found my favourite read of 2021, and now I’m second-guessing that fact. Vespertine cements Rogerson as one of my favourite authors now. Highly, highly recommended.

I received an e-ARC from the publisher, Simon & Schuster Children's UK, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

kotabee's review against another edition

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adventurous dark fast-paced

3.5

thebookishatelier's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional hopeful mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

acedimski's review against another edition

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5.0

You better read this book, or I'll send a spirit your way to possess you AND MAKE YOU!

Vespertine was a must-read for me as I have enjoyed Margaret Rogerson's previous novels, especially [b:Sorcery of Thorns|42201395|Sorcery of Thorns|Margaret Rogerson|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1541621322l/42201395._SY75_.jpg|61425757] which became one of my all-time favorite standalones in this genre. I was very excited to be finally able to pick this up, but despite the promising blurb, I had no idea what to really expect from this story. Nuns? Demons? Possession? Sign me up for those elements - but what exactly is going to happen?

Well, let me tell you: a hell of a time!

Artemisia is a nun who has dedicated her life cleaning the dead bodies of deceased in order to prevent them to become evil spirits that will try to possess and kill everyone. She is content with her life at church, and doesn't want to pursue a career within it. However, as things go in books, one's plans quickly change. And that change happens for Artemisia when she awakens a dangerous spirit tied to a relic in order to defend her convent from an attack by possessed soldiers. From this moment on, the revenant is inside her - and quite shockingly, it is able to speak, to talk, to think. Like a real person and less like a blood-thirsty monster. Due to the lack of training, Artemisia doesn't know how to abandon the revenant back to its relic. Not that the spirit is eager to return there. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where the fun begins. Oh yes, I'm calling it fun. But the kind of fun you have when things get dark and twisted and ... fun? Get it? Okay, let's move on.

Let's speak of the setting first which I loved. As a fan of worlds with lore based on saints and belief, I'm always eager to find more books with them. However, they can either be a hit such as the world we have been presented in [b:Shadow and Bone|10194157|Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #1)|Leigh Bardugo|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1339533695l/10194157._SX50_.jpg|15093325] or a miss like it was in [b:Wicked Saints|36118682|Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)|Emily A. Duncan|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1539378101l/36118682._SY75_.jpg|57709985] for me. In Vespertine it was a hit. a massive hit. A world full of lore, history, and potential to grow bigger. And this was mainly due to the fact that we had Artemisia and the revenant taking us through the world.

Which leads me to my favorite aspect of this book: the relationship between Artemisia and the spirit. From the first conversation, these two's dynamic reminded me so much of Eddie and Venom from the movies Venom (which by the way, I can highly recommend you to watch!). Both are wary of each other, not trusting the other, but end up having to work together to find out what is happening. The world Artemisia knows is the one we are presented first. Evil spirits, old magic that is forbidden, and the nuns' duty to prevent and save the people from it. And as we get deeper and deeper into the story, it's the revenant who is showing us different parts of history that makes Artemisia and us question everything we know so far. Where are the spirits coming from? What did the saints exactly do to bind those evil spirits to their bones so their relics could be wielded? And had the old magic really been banished?

Slowly, their distrust turns into an allyship and soon has potential to grow into one of the best friendships ever. I loved their banter, their bickering and the development Artemisia and the revenant went through so so much that in fact, I didn't even realize there wasn't a romantic subplot until to the point where we were presented with the slight potential of one that could happen in the sequel. In fact, a romantic subplot would have been totally misplaced in this book. Artemisia is a character that wants to stay to herself due to the horrific past she endured, and is only slowly understanding the value of friendship and opening to the people as we follow her and the revenant through the story. While there are other characters in the story that I enjoyed, and other bonds of friendships and trust are being created, my favorite bond remains the one between Artemisia and the revenant. I simply loved them so much. I'm missing them like crazy already.

Overall, this story is just fantastic and if you're a fan of the concept of two "souls" sharing the same body in the way we see it in Venom or Stephanie Meyer's [b:The Host|1656001|The Host (The Host, #1)|Stephenie Meyer|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1318009171l/1656001._SY75_.jpg|3328799] (which is, by the way, a great story - so don't let Twilight be the reason not to read it!) and settings with lore based on belief and sainthood, then you need Vespertine. On your shelf. In your hands. In your heart. Trust me on this one. Just read it.

I can't wait to finally hold the sequel in my hands to a) be reunited with Artemisia and the revenant, b) have all my questions answered, and c) see where this story is leading us! The excitement is real.

Now can someone tell me where I can find myself a revenant? Yes, I want to be possessed. Thank you. (Though, considering the other spiritis ... maybe not.)

kimnoooone's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious medium-paced

5.0