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. When she arrives, however, she is no longer Willie but Angeline McClure, her identity borrowed from an unsuspecting classmate at her own school, and she is assuming teaching responsibilities for which she is ill-prepared. Still, to Willie it’s better than being forced to return home to her mother and stepfather, and she undertakes her new duties enthusiastically under the careful eye of Miss Crenshaw, the headmistress. Surrounded by young Cherokee women her own age, Willie finds life at the seminary intimidating, and life is made more complicated when she begins a flirtation with Eli Sevenstar, a young man whose previous love died under mysterious circumstances. It’s while she’s fighting her feelings for Eli that strange events begin occurring: weird noises in her bedroom, odd notes appearing, and students being hurt by unseen forces. What precisely happened to Eli’s girlfriend Ella? Is her ghost trying to tell Willie to beware?
The Revenant is a ghost story, filled with lots of creepy atmosphere and foreboding, but it is also the story of a young woman discovering herself while trying to escape her family circumstances. Willie’s tenacious personality kept me entertained during her investigation to find what is haunting the school, though she is at times a bit immature in her actions. While the story itself isn’t particularly deep or layered, it is filled with strong characterizations and a good sense of the frustration of a young woman determined to create her own life. It’s a fast, enjoyable story for readers of all ages.