Saints and Dark Magic

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

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.

ARC provided by Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

Once again I find myself falling in love with a book by Margaret Rogerson. I loved the characters and the story and the wonderfully rich and yet dark world that she has created. This is unlike her previous two books in that there is no romance in this one and it will be a series, we just don’t know how many books in that series yet.

Artemisia is a wonderfully complex character. I just adored her. She has a complex and very hard past and she basically wants to be left alone to do a job that she likes and does well at the convent where she has found solace and security. But of course the world has other plans for her, and when she is suddenly thrust into a life she never wanted, she does eventually find herself to be more than she thought.

The revenant was also a very interesting character. Neither male or female, but a presence in Artemisia that gives her powers to destroy dark magic and other evil beings. I loved the banter between the two of them and how they start off as sort of enemies but eventually become allies that truly care for each other.

The world building was of course phenomenal. There is a rich history that is revealed throughout the story of demons and saints and an ancient magic that could destroy the world. The setting feels a bit like medieval europe but there is magic and demons and other things that possess people. But there is also good magic too, that can heal and help. It was a nice mixture of good and evil and there were times that you weren’t sure which was which.

The writing for the most part was also beautiful. There were a few points in the story that felt a bit off, and others that were slow and plodding. The author has a comment on Goodreads that she is still editing even after the ARC’s were sent out, so I am hoping that some of these issues will be sorted out in the end.

If you enjoyed this author’s other books, I am sure you will find this one just as good. And with it being a series even more so. The book did have a definitive yet open ending that will lead nicely into a sequel. That is one book that I will be looking forward to reading in the future.

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