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 don’t read much young adult anymore. At 37, I’ve really started to outgrow a lot of the genre. I ask ridiculous things of the characters, like to make smart, rational decisions because apparently I’ve forgotten the way hormones and emotionsss ravaged my own teenage brain. Half the time I’m reading I want to shake the book and scream, “JUST TELL A GODDAMN ADULT.”
And I recognize how unfair and ridiculous that is, so now I stick to more mature YA if I read it, from authors I know and love or have been heavily vetted by my other picky adult reader friends. Margaret Rogerson is one of the few on that list. Her world building is phenomenal, her plots are refreshingly original, her female leads are headstrong, willful, and highly relatable, and there’s almost never a dull moment in her stories.
Vespertine only cemented her one-click status for me. This book got me out of a hellish, months-long reading slump. A possessed priestess on the lamb? A countryside overrun with monsters? A morally gray priest on her trail who may or may not be a potential love interest?
Sign me the hell up.
And the revenent possessing her was just the icing on top. It was so interesting watching them share headspace and being right there with Artemisia as she learns that this “evil” being might be more than what they seem.
While it ended well, I’m hopeful that there will be more books and it’ll turn into a series. I feel like there are just so many more stories Rogerson could create with these characters and this world.