"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us."
- Franz Kafka
Author: Saundra Mitchell Pages: 304 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Format: E-book (galley copy) My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Summary (from the author's website):
The summer of 1889 is the one between childhood and womanhood for Amelia van den Broek-and thankfully, she's not spending it at home in rural Maine. She's been sent to Baltimore to stay with her stylish cousin, Zora, who will show her all the pleasures of city life and help her find a suitable man to marry. Archery in the park, dazzling balls and hints of forbidden romance-Victorian Baltimore is more exciting than Amelia imagined. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset-visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. Newly dubbed "Maine's Own Mystic", Amelia is suddenly quite in demand. However, her attraction to Nathaniel, an artist who is decidedly outside of Zora's circle, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own- still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. And while she has no trouble seeing the futures of others, she cannot predict whether Nathaniel will remain in hers. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she's not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.
My Summary: Amelia was raised in Maine, and after the death of her parents, she is sent to live with her brother August and his wife, Lizzie. After a few weeks of boredom, her brother decides it would be best to sent Amelia to Baltimore to visit with her cousin Zora for a few months during the summer - he hopes the experience will help her mature, and maybe even result in an engagement for 16-year-old Amelia.
Amelia arrives in Baltimore and quickly becomes close with her cousin Zora, who throws a welcome-party on Amelia's first night. At the party, she is introduced to all of Zora's cousins and her circle of friends, though one person in particular stands out among the rest: Nathaniel Witherspoon.
When she confides in her cousin, Amelia learns that Nathaniel Witherspoon isn't really a member of their social circle; he's an a struggling artist, a Fourteenth - someone hired to even out the number of guests at parties - which means he's off-limits to someone well-off like Amelia.
But Amelia can't seem to get this handsome stranger out of her head, and fate seems determined to throw them together at any given moment...
Then, one night, Amelia dreams of her cousin dancing with the boy she's been pining after for years. Brushing it off, Amelia is shocked when her vision comes true. She confides in Zora, who playfully suggests that Amelia is able to predict the future.
Neither one can believe it when more of Amelia's visions begin to come true, and a chain of events is set off that destroys both their lives.
My Thoughts: As I've mentioned before, I adore historical fiction - especially when it has a paranormal element to it, and lemme just say, Saundra Mitchell has reminded me just how awesome this genre is! This book was a treat to read. Really. The writing was amazingly smooth and easy to follow, and there were enough plot twists and surprises to keep me reading into the wee hours of the morning. The characters were really well-developed as well - I loved that Zora was mischievous and rebellious, but also knew when to be the sweet little girl she was expected to be. And Nathaniel? *drools*. Let's just say you'll be wanting to read a lot more about him in the future! ;)
Amelia's conflicting thoughts about Nathanial were really believable as well, and they added another layer to the story that I was grateful for (don't you just hate when the heroine falls in love with the hero and can't see any of his flaws anymore? I know I do!). Another thing I really liked about this novel was the fact that the story wasn't all based on the 'forbidden-love' element - the romance was there, but it didn't overpower the plot like in other novels I've read lately. Also, just look at that gorgeous cover!
Final Thoughts: I adored this novel, and I'll be pre-ordering it as soon as I publish this review (seriously). If you're a fan of historical fiction, I DEFINITELY recommend you check out this awesome book... and if you're not, I think you should give it a try anyway - you never know! It may be the start of a beautiful friendship!