Jan 23, 2022

Review--Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson


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 had went into Margaret Rogerson's Vespertine with so many high expectations. I've been meaning to read her books for awhile now and settled on her newest one first and was met with quite a bit of disappointment. It just wasn't the story I was expecting and I found it to be a little lackluster and borderline confusing at times.

Artemisa wants to be a Gray Sister and live a solitary life where she prepares bodies for their last funeral rites, at least in the general idea. She lives in a world where spirits are constantly about and she must help to vanquish them when she encounters them. Then one day everything changes and she finds herself possessed by another spirit.

Though possession is a strong word as she's still in control of herself. Another spirit ends up inhabiting her body and she ends up befriending it almost. The spirit is one of the stronger ones and for whatever reason it can't just leave her body, its almost happy to be in her body, even if she's not the best choice in vessels. For naturally, Artemisa is a broken sort of girl who grew up practically with the nuns and has been training to lead a quiet solitary life, by her own choice.

That is until Confessor Leander comes to their church to test them, and since Artemisa is already carrying the unknown spirit within her, she's terrified of what Leander will uncover. She quickly realizes Lander has plans of his own and Artemisa goes on the run at the spirit's urging.

I think what started my confusion was not really understanding this world. The whole time I felt a sort of disconnect with the characters and the world, yet all while wanting to love it. Artemisa was still a great heroine, I totally connected with her on the front of not being able to socialize and struggling when in those situations. Yet, I still couldn't quite get a feel for what the world order was like in this world. I couldn't quite grasp what the concept with Old Magic was about. I gathered enough that it was a bad sort of thing, but I felt like I missed something in the communication somewhere or a history lesson that made it hard to grasp what the big deal of everything was about.

Artemisa continues to try to stay a step ahead of Leander and through her bravery and good deeds has become something of a saint among the people and suddenly everyone is loving the mysterious Saint Artemisa, and yet she is still trying to keep a low profile to stay out of Leander's sights.

I was quite surprised that this book had absolutely no romance whatsoever. Who have I become after all these years that I am actually wanting just a little bit of romantic tension in my books? The reader who started this blog 13 years ago would be shocked, shocked I tell you! I'm not saying I want a full on romance novel where everything revolves around the couple, I just want a little romantic tension, maybe a kiss or even better, an almost kiss. Something to tease and entice us, yet there was none of that here.

All things considered, despite my confusion and feeling of being lost and disoriented, this was a well-paced book. Things seemed to be moving at a nice pace as Artemisa tries to adjust to her new life with a spirit sharing her body with her. She grows closer to it almost where they are not quite friends, but definitely not adversaries who do nothing but butt heads. I enjoyed the dynamics between the two.

The ending was satisfactory. I felt like things were tied up enough and resolved what needed resolving, yet according to Goodreads, this one might be a series. There are a few things that are sort of left open-ended where more could be had if another story develops but it also ends in a way a reader could be happy with where it ends. It's one of those endings where things could go either way. Although, honestly, if it does end up being a series, I might not be continuing it since I just felt a little wayward over the course of the novel. I just could never really get into the book. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't for me sadly. I do intend to read the author's other books as I've one on my TBR pile and have heard good things about her first novel as well, so pending how the other book goes I might read that one too.

While Vespertine was a book filled with promise, it just didn't hit the mark with me. It was still a nice read and though my rating might worry some of you, I consider it to be an "okay read," but slightly better than okay too at that matter. This book just wasn't what I was hoping for but I am not at all thrown off from the author's other books just yet as those still intrigued me enough to want to give them a try. I would highly recommend you doing the same if this book still draws your interest!

Overall Rating 2.5/5 stars

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