Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson – Review

Published: October 5, 2021

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Series: Vespertine #1

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Page: 400 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this  book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:
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 have read a streak of amazing books lately, but this one wasn’t exactly a surprise. Margaret Rogerson has firmly established herself (IMO) as a reliably excellent author so I had decently high expectations. As with Sorcery of Thorns, I was entranced from the first pages and spent a nice chunk of a 16 hour car ride reading.

What I may enjoy the most about this book is our main character Artemesia. She has the Sight, which means she can see spirits and that means she is vulnerable to possession. Unlike most who have the Sight, Artemesia had it from birth and was possessed in her vulnerable state by a spirit called an ashgrim. Her family had no idea and thought she was just mentally unwell from birth and locked her in a shed until she severely burned her own hands to exorcise the ashgrim from herself. Events unfolded such that she was taken in to a convent where the nuns specialize in caring for the dead and this is where we find her when the story begins.

Artemesia is not particularly popular among the novices because she quite frankly pretty scary. That’s what happens when you spend many of your formative years possessed. This had the upside of making her quite capable of sensing spirits and making use of the Relics (artifacts bound with spirits) used among the Clergy. Artemesia declines to move on from her post, which is fortunate since when possessed soldiers attack the abbey she must use the relic of a Revenant, one of the Seven most powerful spirits. This act, along with following events end up garnering too much attention on our young Revenant-wielder. The people dub her a saint, but the Clergy are concerned that she is not in control and desire to hunt her down. The plot is really, really excellent and I won’t reveal any more here. 

I loved Artemesia! She has a fascinating origin story and how she handles her life going forward is quite motivating. The Revenant who possesses her is actually a fairly likable character as well, and even some minor characters ended up being rather decent in the end too, despite first impressions. The characters really made this excellent, but MAN is it cool to see a story with these super cool, yet terrifying Revenants with uncertain backstories. I’m really thrilled to learn more about how they came to be bound to saints in the first place! This is certainly  a world I can’t wait to see more from this series and I’m super happy that IT IS A SERIES, because I thought it was another standalone!

Waiting on Wednesday: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!

I am 100% always down for a new Margaret Rogerson book, particularly after how much I loved A Sorcery of Thorns. Vespertine is the story of a nun-in-training that accidentally binds a powerful revenant that she must now turn to for advice, so that she might stop a hidden evil. The cover art is gorgeous, the synopsis intriguing, and I am left with six months to wait for its release. Vespertine will be out September 2021.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – Review

Cover- Sorcery of Thorns

Published: June 4, 2019

Publisher: McElderry Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Pages: 456 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.


Oh my GOSH it’s been so long since I’ve read a YA fantasy that I’ve fallen in love with!  Sorcery of Thorns had been getting some hype in the bookish community and I did enjoy Rogerson’s other book An Enchantment of Ravens so I decided to pick up the audiobook. First of all, I loved the narration so I’d highly recommend this format if audiobooks are your thing. Secondly, I enjoyed it so much that I’d recommend this book to anyone who reads fantasy (and doesn’t mind a slow burn love interest).

Elisabeth, our darling orphan MC, has been raised at a Great Library her entire life. She knows what it is to wander amongst books that can speak into your mind, bite, or fly away if they’re unchained and the books (and Library itself) seem partial to her. Cue the drama – one of the dangerous grimoires is damaged and turns into a Malefect (giant book monster) and Elisabeth slays it mostly through sheer luck. Unfortunately she is accused of somehow being involved in the sabotage of the grimoire and is sent to the capital for questioning by the Council of Sorcerers. Her escort happens to be a darkly handsome fellow by the name of Nathaniel Thorn, descended from a long line of powerful necromancers. Elisabeth is quite terrified he’s going to murder her in the woods before she can reach her destination.

Alas, she is not to be murdered by the rather brooding sorcerer but ends up enlisting his help after a series of very interesting events. I totally want to spoil everything but I won’t because that’s honestly just rude. The book was great for so many reasons but perhaps the biggest was that not only did I love all the characters, the story was actually really fantastic too! Many times YA (and adult fantasy) novels fall into a terrible pattern of having characters you love but a mediocre storyline and a crappy love triangle. Sorcery of Thorns doesn’t fall into that pattern but rather stands apart as something that can be universally enjoyed.

I don’t give out many 5 star reviews but this was hands down a book that deserved it. I finished the audiobook and went a purchased a hardcover from Amazon because I needed a copy on my shelves IMMEDIATELY for future rainy Saturday reading.

Currently Reading: 6/10/19

Cover- The Girl in Red

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

This book sounds absolutely awesome and I kind of get a post-apocalyptic fairytale vibe from the synopsis. I’ve enjoyed other books by this author and I predict that I’ll like this one at least as much. It’s also a shorter book, coming in at just over 300 pages.

 

 

 

Cover- Sorcery of Thorns

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Magical. Libraries. That was all I needed to know about this book before I added it to my TBR and forgot about it for a few months. It was just released last week, which was great timing for me because I needed a new audiobook to listen to during my brain free time (driving, cleaning, minecrafting, etc.).

Waiting on Wednesday: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable t!!o host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- Sorcery of Thorns

Sorcery of Thorns is another stand alone fantasy novel from Margaret Rogerson, author of An Enchantment of Ravens. I rather enjoyed that book (sucker for faerie stories) and couldn’t resist the appeal of her upcoming release. The cover for this is gorgeous and the synopsis is equally appealing. I mean, I can never resist book featuring libraries + magic + forbidden knowledge and this seems to have all of those things! This is scheduled for release in June 2019.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – Review

Cover- An Enchantment of Ravens

Published: September 26, 2017

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Pages: 300 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.


An Enchantment of Ravens immediately caught my eye when I first came across it last year with its gorgeous cover and compelling synopsis. Alas, I didn’t have time to actually pick up a copy and read it until now. This is a shorter book, coming in at 300 pages, meaning that I zipped through it in about 4 hours and what a delightful way to spend those hours.

This book begins by introducing Isobel, who is a particularly talented portrait artist whose patrons happen to be the fey. Life is as usual until Rook, the Autumn Prince, arrives to have his portrait painted after a three century absence. Predictably, Isobel falls in love with him during the portrait sessions and not so predictably, she paints sorrow into his eyes. BIG MISTAKE. He’s enraged and swoops her off to face judgement for her fatal error aaaaand he falls in love with her too. Mutual love between human and fey is a crime punishable by death (how inconvenient) so they both try to pretend like this isn’t happening. Peril ensues. True love and a sharp iron knife to the heart of one’s enemy can solve all problems.

I actually really liked both Isobel and Rook as characters – they were interesting and had convincing flaws. The plot on the other hand was kind of generic – girl falls in love with fairy guy, love is forbidden, they overcome all their problems. I’m have mixed feelings about the length of the story as well. The plus side is that it was short and they cut to the chase on the romance and the resolution… but that’s also the negative side. It was so short that I feel like it could have either been a much better, more fleshed out story or it could have plunged into dismal YA clichés. I do think it could have done with some expansion near the end, because the resolution was so abrupt!

Overall, this was an enjoyable, quick read and I would read in sequels that may follow in the future. The setting was whimsical, as I expect from any book featuring the Fair Folk, with just a touch of dark soullessness. As my regular readers probably know, faeries are my absolute favorite mythical creatures and my expectations (or at least hopes) for every book featuring them are high. That being said, this book had some good things going for it, but I just didn’t love the story as much as I had hoped.

Currently Reading: 4/16/18

Cover- The Empire's Ghost

The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger

I’ve been wanting to read this book since it was released last year, despite the middling reviews. I just need to satisfy my curiosity – it could be awesome! I picked up the audio book so I actually have time to read it!

 

 

Cover- An Enchantment of Ravens

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

This is another book I’ve been wanting to read for some time now. Rather than let it linger on my shelf unread, I’m actually going to check it out and work on that TBR! This is a fairly short book, so given time I should be able to finish it in a couple evenings.

 

Stacking the Shelves: 12/16/17

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

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I was surprised to receive a finished copy of The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer in the mail recently thanks to Tor. This is the third book in her acclaimed Terra Ignota series. I won’t get to this for awhile since I’m behind on the series.

I also received an ARC of Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon from Harper Voyager – thanks guys! This is my first ARC from them and the synopsis sounds really cool. This will be published in early March, so I hope to have it read by then.

Lastly and perhaps most excitingly, I finally got my copy of Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft from Orbit! This book made a great impression amongst the SPFBO participants and was picked up by Orbit – big congrats to Bancroft on that. I’ve seen nothing but good reviews and can’t wait to check it out!

Books Purchased:

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In addition to the audiobook I picked up the hardcover of Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. This book is too gorgeous not to own in hardcover, featuring beautifully illustrated endpapers, interior art, and a nice glyph impression on the cover.

While I was browsing Amazon, I decided to go ahead and get An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson too! I’ve heard so many good things about this and I LOVE anything Fey. Plus, it’s one of the prettiest books I own.

At long last I’ve received my signed copy of The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan! This is actually part of a reward from the MJS graphic novel I backed on Kickstarted maaaany months ago. I’ve already listened to the audiobook, so this is just going to look pretty on my shelf until I have the chance to do  a re-read.

Both of these were Audible purchases – it’s one of the only ways I manage to check out older books! Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky was a truly fantastic military fantasy and I’ll have a review up soon! A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness was somewhat less endearing, but not every book you pick up can be a winner. I’ll have a review up of this soon-ish also.

Waiting on Wednesday: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature a book that we just can’t wait to get our hands on!


Cover- An Enchantment of Ravens

An Enchantment of Ravens is a book that I just recently stumbled upon and it sounds PERFECT. It’s sounds like a beautiful blend of artistry, the fair folk, and that addictive YA romance that I so love to indulge in. Count me in for this one- I think I’d even disrupt my schedule for it! Also, the cover is awesome. I will be released September 26, 2017. Nuff said.