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The Revenant

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  863 Ratings  ·  165 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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(showing 1-30)
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A generally solid historical murder mystery with ghosts, dragged down a bit by a main character I really, really disliked. Willie would have entirely ruined this book for me, except that it was quite obvious that I was meant to think she was sort of awful, and the other characters all responded to her various awful things in accurate and reasonable ways. She's selfish, racist in an historically appropriate way, lazy, and utterly incapable of considering that other people might have feelings, muc ...more
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
Oct 02, 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
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 04, 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
Nov 21, 2010 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
Dec 08, 2009 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
 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
Christy Dorrity
Sep 28, 2010 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
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
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
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

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:
Feb 08, 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
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
Jen Minkman
Oct 13, 2013 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 :)
Jessica McCann
Aug 03, 2011 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.
Kim Baccellia
Dec 28, 2010 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:
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.
Dec 10, 2009 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.
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 :)
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-
Dark Faerie Tales
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick and Dirty: The Revenant is unique because of the setting and genre. The novel did get slow at times, but the conclusion is worth it to finish.

Opening Sentence: I thought by the time I’d transferred to the Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railway, this foolish tendency to jump at every sound, to blush each time someone looked me in the eyes, would have subsided.

The Review:

In Sonia Gensler’s debut novel about paranormal happenings at girls school in the rural Ok
In a year that seems to be saturated with ghost stories, The Revenant stands out with its gothic, late nineteenth century setting and gutsy main character.

Learning that she must go back home to help her mother an stepfather, Willie assumes the identity of one of her classmates and accepts a teaching position at the Cherokee Female Seminary. Believing it to be a post teaching girls from traditional Cherokee families, Willie is surprised by what she finds in Oklahoma. The girls are much more refin
Margo Tanenbaum
With The Revenant, which hits bookstores this week, debut author Sonia Gensler has crafted a historical fiction/paranormal romance page turner perfect for summer reading. Our heroine is seventeen year old Willie--a self-described liar and a cheat. Desperate to avoid having to return home to help her mother take care of her half-brothers, she fakes educational credentials to get hired as an English teacher at the Cherokee Female Seminary in Indian Territory.

It’s 1896, and Willie doesn’t know wha
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
Novel Novice
Jun 26, 2011 Novel Novice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mixing genres can be a risky business, but Sonia Gensler proves she is a master literary chef with her debut novel, The Revenant — a sweeping historic thriller, with elements of your classic ghost story and Victorian romance.

The Revenant tells the story of 17-year-old Willie, who runs away from a home she can’t fit in with, and assumes a stolen identity to become a teacher at the Cherokee Female Seminary. But life in Indian Territory is not like anything Willie expected. She struggles to teach s
Apr 13, 2013 Terri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gensler's first novel works on several levels... It's a story of relationships, coming of age, romance and a nice little mystery all tied up in a historical fiction bundle. Winnie begins as a rather willful seventeen-year-old, taking a graduating student's identity and teaching certificate then running away to Indian Territory rather than go home to help her family. Her stereotypical image of Indians gives her confidence that, as a junior, her education is adequate to teach the basics to the you ...more
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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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