VESPERTINE by MARGARET ROGERSON
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson is a book I’ve had my eye on for years. I don’t know why I never picked it up. I just didn’t. This, in spite of really enjoying Rogerson’s debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens. Finally, after some hemming and hawing about what I wanted to read, I decided to pick up Vespertine. And I’m glad I did because I absolutely loved it.
Vespertine is a dark fantasy novel about a nun named Artemesia, who, along with her convent of Grey Sisters, tends to her country’s dead before they come back as spectres hellbent on causing harm to humans. When an army of ghosts attacks Artemesia’s convent, she becomes the vessel for a powerful revenant. Together with this spirit, she inadvertently becomes a savior to her people and goes on a crusade to figure out what is plaguing her country and why its ghosts are so very restless.
The major thing I loved about this book is that it positively oozes atmosphere. Rogerson’s writing is beautiful and I loved how sensory and descriptive it was. The different kinds of ghosts and spirits throughout the book are easily explained and I always had a firm grasp of the world, which I appreciated. I loved how these nuns “fought” ghosts and I loved all the nuances Rogerson put into the worldbuilding. This is a book that is definitely about setting as much as it is about character, and Rogerson succeeds in making the setting a character unto itself.
Now, onto Artemesia. I didn’t know how I’d feel about her as a protagonist at first, but as I kept reading, I found myself really identifying with her. Artemesia is awkward and a little traumatized. She has a lot of social anxiety and prefers to spend her time with animals rather than other people. Her interactions with the revenant were hilarious at times, while her interacts with other people were sometimes painful–which I enjoyed because it speaks to how awkward Atemesia is.
The book moved along at a decent pace, though I found the plot to be flagging a bit towards the middle. Despite this, I really loved Vespertine. I loved the ghosts and the creepy wordbuilding, and most importantly, I loved Rogerson’s dedication at the beginning: For anyone who would rather sit in a corner petting a dog than make conversations at a party.
You can pick up Vespertine at the Argenta library today!