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The Revenant

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  786 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews
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 wea
ebook, 336 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Karyn Silverman
Eh. There were two stories here-- three if you count the inevitable romance as its own arc-- and I think either tale might have worked, but together they made the pacing all kinds of uneven and played off each other badly. The outer story (Willie doesn't want to go home to the farm, misses her dead papa whom she worshipped, steals a classmate's teaching certificate and accepts a job in Indian Territory) is where the magic never happened, mostly because Willie is a spoiled bitch. BUT-- the charac ...more
I have never reviewed a book written by a friend and colleague before. I taught with Sonia, and felt like I identified most deeply to Willie's struggles as a teacher. Those self-doubts will resonate with every teacher! But this book is so much more than a book about a teacher.

Willie comes alive from the first page when we discover she's a liar...she has run away from her family who wants her to leave school. She's swiped another girl's teaching certificate and has run away to the C
Interesting premises on this book: girl murdered by drowning haunts Cherokee National Female Seminary in the mid-19th century.

Wilhelmina Hammond is summoned home from school to help tend the family farm. Resentful of the summons, "Willie" assumes a classmates identity and takes off for Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to be a teacher at the Cherokee National Female Seminary. She immediately begins to have problems with a trio of cousins who are too big for their britches. On top of dealing with diffi
A good historical novel about a non-standard place: a Midwestern Cherokee girls' school. Moderately suspenseful Gothic ghost story with a bit of romance. Major characters had at least a bit of three-dimensionality to them that kept them from being entirely stock characters. The plot was somewhat predictable but did have some twists.

One thing I liked about the story was the fascinating and respectful insight into the nature and social structure of middle-class (and to a lesser extent, poor) Nativ
Apr 14, 2011 P.J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book 17 for 2011.
There are so many things I loved about this book!

I loved the setting of the girls' boarding school in Indian country.
I loved the feel of the novel as it was so Libba Bray in the language.
I loved the romance as it gave just enough to keep me wanting more.
And most of all, I loved that the main character had a who subplot of her own that made her so much deeper of a character. The novel could have been an exceptional ghost story with a murder mystery twist. But instead, it was an
May 22, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars

This book is everything I wanted Saundra Mitchell's The Vespertine to be: a well-developed historical with fantasy elements, an intriguing mystery, and inspiring characters.

But the best part of this book was the incredibly unique setting. I have never read a YA book that dealt directly with Native American culture, and this one managed to portray it with historical accuracy and without any stereotyping or judgment. There were so many instances where Gensler could have reverted to coll
 Tina (Fantastic Book Review)
Based on Indian Territory during the late 1800's, THE REVENANT brings mystery and ghostly suspense to the forefront. The setting is unique but has the familiar school setting of clique's and local gossip. The strange incidents shrouded in mystery kept me turning the pages to see what dark secrets would be uncovered behind the walls of the Seminary.

Willie, although brash and full of misconceptions at times, is finding out all about the Cherokee culture first hand. Their belief in spirits or ghost
Oct 15, 2011 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creepy, 2011
This book was ok. I wanted to read this book for the plot. I love any type of hauntings or mysterious and it got even better when I found out there was people who'd been murdered. I think in general that if there's some type of tragic murder as a backstory it makes things more interesting. This book wasn't at all scary. It was more on the creepy side. There were several instances where I went 'oh sh**!', but nothing that kept me up at night. I liked how the clues unfolded and the scenes about di ...more
Princess Bookie
My Thoughts: We are introduced to Willie who doesn't want to return home. She doesn't want to go back to her families home. It took her a while to get out, and she despises going back. She wants to lead her own life. She ends up taking a teaching job on Indian Territory.

The catch, it isn't really "her" job and she's living in a dead girl's room who is said to haunt the place. Of course to Willie, it is gibberish and ghosts don't exist. Until she starts to witness events that are a little too "co
Christy Dorrity
Jan 11, 2011 Christy Dorrity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Twists and turns in The Revenant kept me reading until 1 am one night. I had no idea what would happen next and I loved every minute of it. The Revenant is a haunting ghost story with historical fiction and a good dose of hopeless romance thrown in.

Food to eat while reading: Sevenstar Gingerbread (

Much of the book resonated with Anne of Avonlea and since I am a huge fan of Anne, I felt very much at home between the pages of the book.

Paranormal elements blended naturally
Liza Wiemer
The Revenant is a fascinating, beautifully written historical YA novel with crossover appeal to those who enjoy paranormal and romance. Set in 1896-1897, seventeen-year-old Willie sets out for Indian Territory to teach at the Cherokee Female Seminary. Willie is a bold and self-sufficient character who wants to write her own destiny. She struggles with propriety and family issues while doing her best to forge out a new identity that gives her independence. Entering the Cherokee Female Seminary as ...more
Jul 01, 2011 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-books, fantasy
I should start this review by saying that I know the author. And while I was intrigued by the synopsis, I had never read anything she'd written. I was hoping it would be a pleasant enough read to be able to find some nice things to say about it.

How delightful to be able to say, with all honesty, that I was completely sucked in and mesmerized by this book!

The book's writing style starts out as an intriguing merging of the styles of Jane Austen and Lucy Maude Montgomery. It does a good job of bein
Dec 31, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Will
jo mo

a creature made up entirely by lies

low star rating because of the following aspects:

• tactless & a bit dumb as well as racist heroine
• easy to guess mystery
• boring romance (dreaded instalove trope)(view spoiler)
• forbidden teacher-student relationship (sorry but: zzzzZ)

interesting stuff:
Annie McElfresh
This was a breath of fresh air as far as settings go. A lot of this novel is based on factual events (not the ghost story part, although there are still rummors about it to this day at the school) which makes the setting very real for me. Ms. Gensler has done a wonderful job using slang and terminology used back in the late 1800's which also stays true to the story.

Read this one if you like historical romances and YA fiction!

More YA Reviews:
Reading, Writing and Waiting
Aug 14, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghost-stories
I liked the idea, I liked the writing, but I thought the main character Willie (Willemina) wasn't likeable - and she never really got better. The love story was ridiculous; no one just decides they're in love and should get married by merely a look or two. Well, they shouldn't. And the ending, well, let's just say if you're going to try and have the main character grow up, it shouldn't be done in 2 small chapters. At least, in this case.
Eh - I'm waffling between 2 and 3 stars. It gets 3 for the
Sep 03, 2015 Aisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember picking this book from the bookshelf in the library and reading the back. It was so intriguing that I checked it out. What I loved about this book so much was the historical aspect and especially the characters. This book was a welcoming change to the usual historical fiction and ya novels that are so popular these days, and I loved the setting in the Cherokee Nation. I loved how everyone seemed genuine, and I really loved the main character, Willie. Even though I didn't like her choi ...more
Ea Solinas
Ghost stories should be spooky and mysterious. Otherwise, what's the point?

Unfortunately, neither thrill nor chill shows up until after the halfway point of "The Revenant," and even the few spooky moments aren't really scary. Sonia Gensler does provide a fascinating glimpse of the Cherokee Territories and the people who lived there, but her heroine doesn't get a lot of development until the book's end.

When her mother summons her back to the family farm, Willemina Hammond is desperate not to retu
Cindy Mitchell
Gensler, Sonia The Revenant, 315 pgs. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. $16.99 Content: Language: PG-13 (7 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.

Willie is a sixteen year old girl who steals the identity of a graduated girl from her school so that she can teach at the Cherokee Female Seminary in Indian Territory. Willie is avoiding her family and the farm life they live, but she finds teaching is a lot more work than she is prepared for. While at the Cherokee Seminary she finds herself haunted by a
Jan 05, 2015 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
The thing that I enjoyed most about the Revenant was not the supernatural/mystery aspect of it, nor the (rather boring and obvious) romance. It was the character of Willie. First, I loved the comparison she makes when she returns home about how she is like a revenant (it’s a double-meaning title! Or, at least, a double-referencing title). In fact, the last third of the book is called “The Revenant” even though, plot-wise, the revenant part has already finished.

Second, I liked the revelations mad
Ian Wood
Sep 13, 2014 Ian Wood rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
Jun 17, 2014 Bailey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, surprisingly. I'm not usually one for American Victorianism and don't usually pick up books set in America during that period, let alone in the American West. But after reading A Race to Splendor recently, I realized my prejudice for turn of the century American stories was perhaps a little unfair. This book piqued my interest because of the the Indian Territory setting, which is also unusual for me, but, recently I've become a bit more interested in my heritage. I'm glad I fi ...more
Jen Minkman
Oct 04, 2014 Jen Minkman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great, great book. Atmospheric, well-researched, romantic, and a bit creepy. I mean, if Native Americans, haunted boarding schools and forbidden romances between a young teacher and a Cherokee guy from the nearby boys' seminary are thrown into one book, it really can't go wrong with me :)
So I posted a picture of The Little Stranger on IG... and rated this book. I sometimes have this habit of reading books according to where I end up sitting. Like I got up from reading Little Stranger to look for my phone, and picked-up the book beside it. --, 3 stars for the engaging storytelling, the untapped stars for the forced romance element. I'm the first one to always look for a romantic angle, how absurd it might seem, but this could've done without one that sounded somewhat stilted and ...more
Hennessey Library
Not just a young adult book, The Revenant by Sonia Gensler is a tightly crafted mystery with just the right hint to help the reader unravel the dark events that have happened at the Female Seminary in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The young heroine has told her lies and assumed an identity that is not her own, but this is not a tale of close calls for the imposter, it is a mystery with Gothic-Oklahoma overtones that plays itself out in the lives of well-defined characters. Not all is at it seems on any ...more
May 07, 2011 Jenny marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Very intriguing ghost story told in beautiful language. Also, I liked the originality of the premise and the setting and now want to know more about the education of Cherokee women. Great read.
Kim Baccellia
Jan 27, 2011 Kim Baccellia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great historical ghost tale set in the Old West.

My YA Books Central review:
Really cool, original idea--I wasn't totally impressed by the presentation but still a solid read and an excellent escape for the afternoon.

Full review later :)
Jessica McCann
Jan 02, 2012 Jessica McCann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, engaging young-adult historical novel. Native American history, ghosts, mystery, 1890s teen angst -- this is an entertaining read.
Aug 16, 2013 Laurenhill80 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's set in Talequah, Oklahoma and written by a former high school English teacher. Highly recommended.
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I am a former high school teacher turned full-time writer living in Oklahoma with my husband and my cat.

My books include THE REVENANT (Knopf 2011), a ghostly mystery set at a Cherokee girls' school, THE DARK BETWEEN (Knopf 2013) a Gothic murder mystery set in Cambridge, England, and GHOSTLIGHT (Knopf 2015) a contemporary MG mystery about a haunted house film project.

PLEASE NOTE: I'm not assignin
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