The Unquiet Past

  • Pages:264
  • Publisher:Orca Book Publishers
  • Series: Secrets
  • Themes:paranormal historical fiction, ghost stories, mystery, coming of age, family secrets
  • Available:09/29/2015
  • Age Groups:Fiction Ages 12+
  • Lexile:HL630L
  • ATOS:4.6
  • Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient:Z+
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Tess has always been tormented by waking visions that make her question her sanity. When the orphanage she lives in burns down, she decides to face her fears and find out once and for all what is wrong with her. She believes the truth must lie with her parents, and so, armed with only an address and phone number, Tess travels to a crumbling mansion in rural Quebec, where she discovers evidence of mistreatment of mental patients. She also makes an unlikely ally and gradually unearths her family’s sad history—and finally accepts the truth about her paranormal powers.

Part of the SECRETS—a series of seven linked novels that can be read in any order.
"The realistic landscape of racist microagressions that plague Métis Jackson is heartbreakingly matter-of-fact. A compelling mystery."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Tess’s spunk, determination, and sense of adventure will turn readers into allies immediately. It’s hard not to root for someone who has nothing and is ready to pursue any possible clue at all costs...Armstrong does an excellent job navigating difficult issues, including racism and mental illness...A compelling story that’s difficult to put down."
– CM Magazine
"Part of a series of seven linked but independent novels, The Unquiet Past can stand on its own as intended but will likely entice readers to seek out the rest of the series. This fast-paced paranormal thriller will appeal to fans of Caroline B. Cooney and Lois Duncan. Tess is inexperienced and naïve, but despite her secret visions and fear that she is going crazy, she is a strong, independent young woman who learns from her mistakes.The story is grounded in time and place, with just enough historical details on Metis, French-language rights, and psychological research to enhance the story."
"Features a creepy supernatural element. Tess’s search for the meaning of her waking visions leads her to an abandoned mental hospital, a series of illegal experiments, and a boy who’s looking for answers of his own."
– School Library Journal
"This would make a great read aloud as it would stimulate discussions and questions around mental health and medical ethics. Learning a little about the past in this historical fiction may help students understand the need for effective well-being initiatives today."
– Ms. J's Book Reviews 4 School Libraries blog
"Readers will find the mystery of what was going on at the abandoned house both intriguing and scary. That Tess and Jackson operate so independently will appeal to the age group, too. Bonus points to Armstrong for highlighting the history of mental illness in Canada and Campbell’s despicable treatment of depressed women. Settings of small-town Hope, the restrictive orphanage, the spooky mansion that holds so many scary possibilities and the McGill campus will hold readers’ interest and inspire them to reach for the other books in the series."
– Resource Links
Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Awards - Snow Willow   | 2016  |  Nominated
CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens   | 2016  |  Commended
Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People   | 2016  |  Short-listed
Forest of Reading Red Maple Award   | 2017  |  Nominated