I have not yet decided if The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell is fantasy historical fiction or historical fantasy fiction. Amelia has moved to Baltimore for the season in the spring of 1889 to find a husband, as there is no one suitable in Broken Tooth, Maine. What she finds instead is the power to see the future. Sometimes she sees a mundane future about a lost glove, but other times she sees a death or other tragedy. She discovers this power by accident one evening at vespers (hence the title) as she looks into the setting sun.
One element I really liked about the book is the way the fantasy elements naturally fit into the story. (Clearly I have decided it is historical fiction with elements of fantasy.) They do not feel contrived or forced. Amelia simply does what a young woman does, which is flirt and dance and giggle and rebel, but there is much more to her and her powers. The novel is a celebration of young womanhood and the discovery of the magic within. Sounds a little hokey, but I cannot help but admire Mitchell's portrayal of Amelia as she discovers her feminine power and finds the male who is her complement.
The writing is also beautifully descriptive, which I always like. I can appreciate books that qualify as brain candy, but I like when novels, especially those for young people have a compelling story as well as being strongly written literature.
The book also ends well, though I did have my worries for part of it...suitably vague but optimistic. This is another novel I would like to see remain as a stand alone. I care enough about Amelia and her soul mate to wonder what happens to them and content to remain wondering. I think a sequel would lessen the power of the story.