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Publisher's Summary

An international best seller!

From the New York Times best-selling author of Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a thrilling, “dark coming-of-age adventure” (Culturess) about a teen girl with mythic abilities who must defend her world against restless spirits of the dead.

The spirits of the dead 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 ravenous, hungry spirits. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who whisper 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 whose extraordinary power almost consumes her - but death has come, 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, Artemisia discovers that facing this hidden evil might require her to betray everything she believes - if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

©2021 Margaret Rogerson. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Featured Article: The Best Dark Fantasy Audiobooks


If your favorite genres are fantasy and horror, and you can't get enough of terrifying scenarios with high-stakes action, then you need to explore the winding world of dark fantasy. When the mystic, magic, and incredible world-building of fantasy are combined with elements of grim horror and the supernatural, the result is something truly pause-resistant. But with such a rich variety of titles to choose from, it can be impossible to know where to begin. We've rounded up the best dark fantasy listens that explore chilling settings, morally grey characters, and twisting plots alongside dark magic.

What listeners say about Vespertine

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another great adventure from Margaret Rogerson

First off I want to say I'm a big fan of Margaret Rogerson's stories. Her books are very different from each other, yet they're all beautifully written with a vivid cast of well rounded characters and a strong female protagonist. I was excited when her latest novel showed up on Audible and I've been eagerly looking forward to its release. Her first book, An Enchantment of Ravens, dealt with Faeries and their courts, her second, Sorcery of Thorns, is a Regency populated with magical beings and sentient grimoires and her third, Vespertine, is about religious orders and malevolent spirits that can manifest from the dead.

The story is fascinating from practically the first word. Set in a middle age like scenario it details a society where the church is just as much a power as the land's rulers. As it unfolded, elements reminded me of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series. (Which made me even more psyched about the story.) But instead of lineages from the charter being the key to fighting the dead, individuals in Vespertine's world come from all walks of life.

Regardless of class or social standing, anyone manifesting abilities is indoctrinated into a religious order. People that can see, sense or communicate with spirits are segregated from the general populous. It's too dangerous for them to remain in their homes, because they might be killed by their family or neighbors due to fear and ignorance. The convent (or monastery) provides shelter, support, education and training for 'the gifted'. As they mature the church periodically tests the novitiate's to determine their strength. Rare individuals have the capacity to wield a Saint's relic. Depending on the relic's properties, they'll gain incredible abilities. To heal, to fight, etc. The rub is they can be drained to death by the relic, lose their mind or become possessed and transition into a ravening monster that consumes all life in its vicinity.

To make the story even more interesting, the main character, Artemisia, is on the spectrum. Uncomfortable around people, always at a loss to say the right thing or respond the right way with the other novitiates, she prefers working with animals and keeping company with the dead brought to the Grey Sisters convent for burial. A person's cause of death determines what malevolent entity they'll manifest as. One of the many duties the Grey Sisters perform is to purify the corpse's spirit before that can happen. Most novitiates dislike this assignment, but Artemisia prefers the silent crypt, far from the stares and gossip and shunning she endures from her peers. She wants nothing more than to stay in this quiet backwater community and take her vows to become a Grey Sister, unlike the other novitiates that can't wait to leave.

Soon after the story opens, Artemisia and her peers are to be tested. A Confessor (an unusual choice for this task) has arrived at the convent to determine if they're ready to take vows and the position they're best suited for in the church's vast network of sects and orders that's spread throughout the world. Artemisia, used to no one realizing the depth of her abilities, is distressed when he states she's coming back to the city, (in essence, the Vatican) with him to be trained to wield one of the many Saint's reliquaries stored in their vaults.

But things don't go as planned. Artemisia ends up wielding a Saint's relic with no instruction or training. The Confessor assumes she's been possessed by the strong revenant that was contained in the relic, declares her extremely dangerous and wants her imprisoned. And Artemisia, now with the relic's hostile entity in her mind, goes on the run.

The ensuing adventure of the two of them coming to terms with their co-dependent relationship, the revenant's knowledge and advice helping Artemisia to survive (with the threat it will always try to gain its freedom) as they travel to the heart of the church's power in hopes of finding a tool the revenant thinks is in their vaults to separate themselves. Their clever cat and mouse tactics avoiding the Confessor and an army of church soldiers between them and their destination, while wielding incredible power fighting malevolent spirits that have invaded the countryside and also uncovering a nefarious plot embedded in the church's hierarchy makes for avid listening.

Caitlin Davies narration is very enjoyable to listen to. She has good range and has the wide variety of characters in the story stepping off the page. I could quibble there's a male voice I didn't find believable, but the rest of her performance is strong, making it a very small blip in an otherwise great listening experience.

Well worth the credit.

4 people found this helpful

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Good, but not great.

A well-thought out book but grew a little tedious at times. On the whole, saved by timely sarcasm on the Revanent's part and an awkward, likeable main character.

3 people found this helpful

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Lovely story , will never forget it

This book drew my attention from chapter one. I believe for me, I had bit of difficulty understanding the religious phrases or objects in story but eventually I caught on.
There was a very parallel relationship forming with her revenant . A “unlikely friendship” story is always lovely to read. I also noticed that the main character Was described to be on the Autism Spectrum, which I found really unique about her. She was very intelligent but disliked socializing, which is why I found it so pure when she formed a bond to her revenant.
She saw herself in the revenant, something that felt it couldn’t be cared for or truly loved. She was willing, despite the revenants countering, to put her own life on the line to save him. And he to her..
it was so lovely to witness however I do wish the story didn’t end right after they realized how much they could care for each other and make each other whole. It was a little saddening to see things end suddenly after a huge realization. I can’t wait to see more of their friendship tested and developed.

3 people found this helpful

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LOVE this book!

I was hooked from the 1st chapter. Absolutely beautiful performance and story with thrilling takes on familiar elements and wonderful characters. I dearly hope there will be a sequel. These characters deserve to continue their story.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful story, perfected by Davies!

This story was one of those books you can’t put down. The author wrote a great story, however it was the talent of Caitlin Davies that brought the story to brilliant life!

There are so many really good audio books that could have been great if read by Caitlin.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent

I loved it. I loved the characters and their story. I can't wait to listen to more by this author. The narration was excellent also.

1 person found this helpful

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The Revenant Saved This Book

I really struggled with this book. I am a massive Margaret Rogerson fan but this book felt simultaneously rushed and not developed far enough. It struggles with the "dropped in the world no backstory" which usually authors will creatively find ways to provide the background as you go along. The world/mythos is seemingly massive but I'm not clear on how all of it works together. I feel like this rating might improve upon a re-read, however, I don't have the motivation to read it again. The ending didn't leave me wanting more and therefore I'm not even excited/looking forward to the next one, sadly. There were moments where Rogerson's writing shone and the connections/depth/character development were incredible. But where the characters shone, the plot suffered. The revenant was, by far, the standout superstar of this novel, he gets 5 stars. Caitlin Davies brought these Characters to life brilliantly and I love her narration style!

1 person found this helpful

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Omgee

This is one beautiful book that will keep you captivated. I did not want to set this aside. The imagery and internal dialogue is utterly mesmerizing. This fantasy world is filled with dark things, deeds and surprising twists. How could you not fall for Artemisia? She is the overlooked and unlikely heroine who will risk everything to save the day. This is one glorious tale of self discovery. And I can't wait to see what happens next!

Artemisia is tragically alluring. She's been mistreated and is socially awkward. Watching her stand up and seize her destiny makes for pure entertainment. She's been through so much already, why not do her best to be the savior that is needed?

I think this is an intriguing fantasy rich in world building with characters that will delight. Margaret Rogerson never disappoints and that's why she's one of my must read authors.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing!!

This is by far one of the best books I have ever read/ listened to!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kk
  • 05-29-22

long but worth it

The recording was long and the story at time drawn out but the vivid detail and story made it worth it for a long trip. loved the unique and fascinating story.