Author: Margaret Rogerson
Release Date: Oct 5, 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
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.
CW: talk of past child abuse and self harm, anxiety, touch aversion
I didn’t even realize until a few months ago that Margaret Rogerson had another book coming and as soon as I saw it, I had to add it to my tbr. I ofcourse had no hopes of getting the arc but was so lucky to get selected for Turn the Page blog tour and I’m so excited that I got to read this one early.
To be honest, I didn’t even bother reading the premise in detail because I trusted the author after the absolutely wonderful Sorcery of Thorns. And in a similar fashion, this was engaging from the get go. The plot is actually pretty simple but the author makes it all interesting by giving us a world teeming with stories of old magic, the dead rising as different kinds of specters depending on the manner of their death, the powers exhibited by each kind and the fascinating power of relics and revenants. The book definitely is full of religious themes which I wasn’t actually expecting. The dialogue is also very funny which kept me amused most of the time. The pacing is just right, with some quiet moments in between, but it never becomes too tense or nail biting.
Artemisia is an interesting protagonist. As someone who has suffered a lot of trauma in her childhood, she is most comfortable being with herself and feels pretty anxious when having to communicate with anyone. So it’s ironical that she gets thrust into a situation where she gets possessed by a sentient revenant who seems to love to talk, and is also startled to realize that people have started to treat her as a saint and savior. However much she wants to retreat into herself, she is also compassionate and responsible and maybe quite reckless, so she makes the choice to fight the evil that has descended upon her world.
But the most fun part of the book is her interactions with her revenant. While she avoids talking to anyone else, she can’t escape him because he is literally in her and their conversations are so interesting. I was surprised to see that despite being extremely powerful and behaving as if he hates human and especially nuns, he is the one who chides her for not taking care of herself, and guides her every step of the way so that she doesn’t throw her life away in some misguided attempt at saving the people. Their bickering friendship is a delight to see develop even though he would never agree that they were friends.
Marguerite and Charles were very surprising supporting characters because I never thought they would help Artemisia. Marguerite isn’t who she seems to be and I loved her determination to survive and achieve her goals, despite no one believing in her. Charles maybe a soldier who is supposed to follow orders but he is a good young man who believes in friendship and the trust he develops for our main characters really moved me.
In the end, I had a good time reading this one and I’m so glad it’s a standalone. If you are someone who wouldn’t mind a fantasy full of religious lore and world building, biting dialogue and an underlying theme of friendship, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. Despite the way the plot unfolds, it never felt too high stakes and was quite a calm and entertaining read. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that it has no romance and I would definitely count it as a plus in this case.
PS: Thank you to Turn the Page Book Tours for providing me with the advance copy and this blog tour opportunity. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.
About the Author
Margaret Rogerson is the author of the New York Times bestsellers An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses. Visit her at MargaretRogerson.com.
Up for grabs on the book blog tour is two (2) copies of VESPERTINE by Margaret Rogerson, one a physical finished copy and one a digital copy. Open USA only.
Giveaway starts: Monday, September 27, 2021
Giveaway ends: Saturday, October 9, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CDT