When Willie arrives in Indian Territory, she knows only one thing: no one can find out who she really is. To escape a home she doesn't belong in anymore, she assumes the name of a former classmate and accepts a teaching job at the Cherokee Female Seminary. Nothing prepares her for what she finds there. Her pupils are the daughters of the Cherokee elite—educated and more wealthy than she, and the school is cloaked in mystery. A student drowned in the river last year, and the girls whisper that she was killed by a jealous lover. Willie's room is the very room the dead girl slept in. The students say her spirit haunts it. She's also not sure what to make of a boy from the nearby boys' school who has taken an interest in her—his past is cloaked in secrets. Soon, even she has to admit that the revenant may be trying to tell her something. . (goodreads summary)
It is August, 1896 and seventeen year old Willemina Hammond is doing the unthinkable. She is boarding the railway to the Cherokee Female Seminary under a false identity accepting a teaching position that is truly not hers for the taking. She has assumed the name of a former classmate and will be teaching English classes at the Seminary as Angeline McClure. She finds she is not much older than her students and pretending to be someone she is not becomes quite the challenge for her. She would much rather be an impostor than return home from her own schooling to her mother's plea for help with the family. Willie's father had passed away and not soon after his death, her mother remarried a neighbor and had children with him. Willie feels betrayed by her mother's choices but finds an opportunity to escape them by taking this teaching job under false pretences. As the new school year begins, strange things are happening at the Girl's Seminary. There is rumor that a ghost of a student who drowned in the nearby river is haunting the Seminary but for reasons unknown. There may be more to this death than just accidental. Willie has also captured the eye of a local schoolboy, Eli Sevenstar, who also seems to have unexpectedly captured her heart as well. Not only does she need to cover up her identity but also her feelings for him to keep from being exposed as the fraud she truly is. As more and more ghostly incidents occur at the school, Willie finds herself becoming intensely involved in the mysteries unraveling behind the truth of the Revenant that may bring her more than she bargained for.
Willie and her friend Olivia are determined to find the source of the ghost and why it is haunting with a vengeance. There are girls in the school who seem to be targets for the ghosts outbursts that cause injury and fear amongst them. They feel it is the ghost of Ella, the student who drowned, because they treated her unkindly during her life. Ella was also the girl who had every boys attention and wishing for her love. There are many diverse characters that make this story appealing and added to the mystery of Ella's death. But, dealing with spooky ghosts is not the only thing Willie is trying to sort out. Her feelings for Eli come into conflict while hiding her identity. Any relationship is forbidden because she is a teacher but her feelings are actually one of a smitten school girl. This was a simple but chilling historical ghost story that was filled with mystery, murder, plenty of secrets, romance and of course, suspense. It had many twists and turns that were unexpected. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I was pleasantly surprised by another outcome. Passionate feelings and pregnancy before marriage are portrayed but not in too much detail. I did find myself enjoying this debut novel because it had a mysterious and suspenseful plot that kept me interested until the end. It gave me vivid imagery of the setting because the writing style presented Victorian eloquence and a detailed feeling of an 1890's time period. The cover was quite beautiful, too. I do look forward to reading more books by the author and I think this is a "just right book" for ages 15 and up.~
Title: The Revenant
Author: Sonia Gensler
Pub. Date: June 2011, Alfred A. Knopf - Random House
Genre: young adult fiction
Hardcover, 322 pgs.