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The Revenant [Kindle Edition]

Sonia Gensler
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

Willie doesn't believe in ghosts, but when strange things start happening at the school, she isn't sure anymore. 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. . . .

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


"Gensler makes a solid debut with an eerie and suspenseful work of historical fiction in which everyone is a murder suspect. In the summer of 1896, 17-year-old Willie heads west from Tennessee when she discovers that her mother wants her to return home from school to a life of household drudgery. Willie steals her classmate's identity and accepts a position as an English teacher at the Cherokee Female Seminary in "Indian Territory," teaching girls no younger than she. The school is the opposite of what she expects: elite, challenging, and allegedly haunted by the spirit of a girl who drowned one year earlier. Willie immediately has her hands full dealing with the snobbish Bell cousins and an unforgiving principal, hiding her past (and her crush on a student), and deciphering the ghost's increasingly violent actions. The layers of detail address the complex social structure of the period, and Gensler's characters and dialogue are believably crafted. Readers should be drawn in by the mystery and moved by Willie's struggles to fit in and negotiate her independence."
- Publishers Weekly

"When Willie is summoned from boarding school to help at home in 1896, she instead runs away to Indian Territory, assuming the identity and teaching post of a girl who is about to reject the job. Though Willie has not completed her own schooling, she knows that her experience will be ample for teaching at the Cherokee Female Seminary. But she finds that the students are much more cultured and educated than she expected, frequently outpacing her both socially and intellectually and challenging her teaching and interpersonal skills. Also testing her resolve are mysterious noises and sights, purportedly caused by the ghost of a lovelorn student who drowned and seems to be seeking justice—or revenge. This first novel effectively covers a good deal of ground: race and class issues, history, and a compelling ghost and love story are all entwined as plot points are teased out a bit at a time. The uncommon setting and time period add to the appeal, and an author’s note details the factual basis for the characters, issues, and story."
- Booklist

"This debut presents an intriguing look at a little-known piece of American history . . . the well-drawn characters and suspenseful plot should keep readers fully engaged."
- Kirkus Reviews

"Stunningly taut and entirely compelling, this blend of historical fiction, supernatural mystery, and romance will please fans of Jennifer Donnelly and Saundra Mitchell . . . Willie is a headstrong but tremendously flawed protagonist, and her status as both a hero and a liar, even at the close of the book, will make for some interesting discussion."
- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

SONIA GENSLER grew up in a small Tennessee town and spent her early adulthood collecting impractical degrees from various Midwestern universities. A former high school English teacher, she now writes full-time in Oklahoma. The Revenant is her first novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 397 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0375867015
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 14, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,795 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and spooky historical paranormal June 15, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Reveant by Sonya Gensler takes place at a female seminary in Talequah, Oklahoma before statehood. Willie has stolen her roommates identity and teaching certificate and her job opportunity teaching girls at the seminary to avoid moving home to help her mother with the farm. When she arrives she finds things are not as she expected, the girls are more educated and her room holds a secret. It's former occupant died in an accident the prior year and many think it's haunted. Willie must keep her identity secret and figure out how to be respected by her students while unraveling the mystery.

This is a very interesting historical paranormal. The setting and time period is interesting and the author researched her background well. Hearing Willie talk about herself (at 17) as an eternal spinster and being reprimanded for stepping out of the room with a boy is a stark contrast to how girls can act today. The mystery surrounding the spirit is interesting and doesn't cause the author to make any huge jumps to imagine that it was true. There was a bit of a romance that was sweet and approached in a fairly historically accurate manner. The bits of poetry and Willie's love of literature are a nice addition to the story. I was constantly engaged while reading and finished the book quickly.

Appropriateness: The author went to pains to make the book historically accurate so there is no adult content and the romance is limited to glances and a few clandestine kisses. Willie is seventeen and living and working as a teacher in a society that views her as an adult making this a good read for older teens. I would recommend this book to teens 14 + with it being fully appropriate for younger readers of any age that were interested in the plot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful central character June 28, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A terrific book with excellent prose, a historically rich and realistic late-19th century American setting, a flawed but likeable protagonist who grows thru her experiences, and a well woven romance/mystery plot. Highly recommended for adults as well as young adults!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning historical ghost story! June 21, 2011
I finished reading Sonia Gensler's THE REVENANT last night and closed it with a sigh. You know the feeling of finishing a book that's just so good you worry that you won't find another one you love as much for a long time? It's one of those books, and while I couldn't put it down to make it last longer, I was so sad to be finished.

THE REVENANT is a delicious blend of historical fiction, mystery, and ghost story set at a Cherokee boarding school near the turn of the century. When 17-year-old Willemina Hammond arrives to take a teaching position, it's under false pretenses, but her phony identity soon becomes the least of her concerns when she's assigned to the bedroom of a former student who might have been murdered. The students are convinced her ghost haunts the school, and it seems to be growing ever more violent. As she struggles to carry out her role as teacher and gain the respect of her students, Willie is pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery until her very life is at stake.

There is so much to love in this story - characters who are complex and multi-faceted, especially the main character, Willie, who is at once strong, spirited, and flawed. Her coming-of-age through the trials of this ghost story/mystery is believable and poignant, and at the same time, the story sacrifices nothing in terms of its harrowing plot. I was turning pages as fast as I could at one point, then found myself going back to appreciate the gorgeous prose once I'd found out what happened.

The writing in this book reminds me of the very best of Jennifer Donnelly's work - stunning and seemingly effortless. In fact, I was bewildered when my cell phone rang while I was reading yesterday.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting story May 7, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed the story on a historical level, but as a ghost story it was average. The ghostly happenings didn't go overboard, so they certainly were believable, but I guessed who the bad guy was very early on.

I commend the author for writing about "Indians" in a non-stereotypical manner. Few people know the little slice of history that she chose, but the descriptions were rather generic. It could have been any female boarding school during the era. I never truly felt that it was a Cherokee boarding school. There were sprinklings here and there of "full bloods" vs. "mixed bloods", but besides Eli Sevenstar, none of the characters came across as Cherokee.

In one scene, Eli claimed the stereotypical portrayal of plains tribes did not represent the Cherokee. I was pleased to see it, yet I never got any sense of the true heart of the Cherokee. The setting was about 60 years after the Trail of Tears, but the only mention was a character whose family hadn't been "forced" to Indian Territory.

Most of the Indian boarding schools weren't as benevolent as the portrayal in The Revenant. I would have really loved to find out more as to why that wasn't the case here. Overall, it was a fun read for seeing what went on at female boarding schools during the late 19th century.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a Ghost of Her First Novel
This is the complete review as it appears <a href=" Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts and Secrets
The year is 1896, and 17-year-old Willemina Hammond finds herself on a train headed to her new teaching position at the Cherokee Female Seminary. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Tamela Mccann
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Think Anne of Green Gables meets Nancy Drew with ghosts. Really good, enjoyed the characters and didn't see the ending coming. Appropriate for all ages. Read more
Published 15 months ago by JenMcMur
5.0 out of 5 stars A story that resonates
I truly enjoyed this book. It is filled with rich detail and development of life in pre-statehood Indian territory, told engagingly through the themes that seem to transcend time. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mari-Marge
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing first novel
A stolen identity, a runaway school girl, a budding romance, a suspicious death, and a restless spirit haunting a girls' school... what's not to love? Read more
Published 21 months ago by T. Street
4.0 out of 5 stars great historical fiction
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. This title and book description was captivating, so I read it. Enjoyable!! Read more
Published 23 months ago by JM
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
This was a great story. I especially liked how the story moved across a long period of time instead of all the action happening in less than a week like most young adult books. Read more
Published on November 7, 2012 by Jennifer Donner
5.0 out of 5 stars Gensler is amazing
I love to find new or relatively new authors that have well written material and keep my interest. Sonia Gensler is that type of author. Read more
Published on September 6, 2012 by purpleturtle
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I got this book because I graduated from Northeastern State University and am part Cherokee. It made the book especially interesting since I am familiar with the building and the... Read more
Published on April 6, 2012 by K. Lamoreaux
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique because of the setting and genre. The novel did get slow at...
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick and Dirty: The Revenant is unique because of the setting and genre. Read more
Published on February 23, 2012 by Dark Faerie Tales
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More About the Author

Sonia Gensler grew up in a small Tennessee town and spent her early adulthood collecting impractical degrees from various Midwestern universities. A former high school English teacher, she now writes full time in Oklahoma and spends summers in England.

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