If you're like me and are trying to stuff as many spooky reads into the month of October, let me introduce you to Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson.
|Pub Date: 10-5-21
YA - Fantasy
Artemisia is training to become a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the dead to ensure their spirit passes on. If the bodies are not properly taken care of, they risk coming back as vengeful spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. While others may balk at this job, Artemisia relishes it. She finds comfort in the silence of the dead and would rather spend her time with them than with the hateful words and rumors the living toss her way because of her scarred hands and tragic past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia will do anything to protect her home-- even if that means awakening an ancient revenant spirit trapped within a saint's relic. Revenants are malevolent beings, and the one Artemisia now finds herself bound to wouldn't hesitate to possess her body if her guard drops for even a moment. Artemisia knows only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, could weather the toll the revenant takes on a body, but with all their knowledge lost to time, she has no choice but to turn to the revenant itself for help. With more attacks cropping up, Artemisia and the revenant will have to band together if they hope to defeat the dark evil making its way over the land.
I went into this with very high expectations, and I fear I shot myself in the foot a bit. With Rogerson's previous books, I was instantly swept up into her worlds and loved everything from the get-go, and while I did end up enjoying this, it took me quite a bit to get grounded. There were two main reasons for this. First, I felt the first few chapters were very info-dumpy, and while I get that was necessary to set everything up, it was a little jarring trying to get my bearings. All the lore of the world was fascinating once I understood what was going on, though. Second, was Artemisia herself. She came off as very brash and unwelcoming at first, but once you got to know her and her backstory, you realize her standoffishness is valid. I did warm up to her eventually and thought she was incredibly loyal and admired her strength. My favorite bits came from her interactions with the revenant. They started so at odds and distrustful of one another, but then it turned into this wonderfully nurturing partnership. Not to mention, the revenant's sass was always on point. Though it took me a bit, I still thought this was highly enjoyable, and Rogerson crafted an atmospheric, action-filled ride, and I'm intrigued to see where it goes from here.