Author Saundra Mitchell
Release date: March 7, 2011
It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. 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. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, 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. 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.
Gems: From the first line the lyrical prose flow beautifully. The dark poetic-style of each description sings along like a haunting carnival tune. The metaphors are juxtaposed and grounded in concrete images giving it just enough of a dreamy feel without leaving the reader floating in absurdity.
I fell fast for this read and found myself enraptured with the story late into the night. I did not want to return from historical Baltimore anymore than I ever want to leave Victorian England. This is a historically dark romance that celebrates youth, love, expectations and fate. It possesses a touch of the paranormal that presents in the popular form of spiritualism or mysticism which was a growing fascination during this time period. It begins with what seems the end, much like a prediction, the finality of the picture is never certain. As the story continues the reader can only hope that the foreseen fate is not realized. Small tragedies are diverted only to reappear in another form, so it is plausible that a different ending might ensure. I adored this book and will read it again because the intensity of the prose-style left me breathless. I do not easily swoon, but Mitchell captured the painful hunger of first love and exploded it onto the page.
Flaws: Without discussing key parts of the story, I will only comment that I wish a few parts were slowed down with a hint of explanation. I was left with a couple questions that would have been easily resolved with a short paragraph.
* ARC provided for review via Netgalley courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing