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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

This book is SO DIFFICULT to talk about without spoilers!  So I apologize in advance if anything I write seems a bit fuzzy.  I can tell you that you definitely, absolutely need to read this book.

I will share with you as much as Goodreads does:  Anne Merchant is a brand new student at Cania Christy, a very, very exclusive boarding school on an island off the coast of Maine.  Parents are paying exorbitant amounts in tuition to send their high-achieving teens here, where the fight to be valedictorian seems to be almost life-or-death.  Anne fits it alright; she's definitely smart, and a talented artist.  A few questions are left lingering, though:  how is her lowly funeral-director dad paying the tuition for this place?  Why is she living in a cottage off-campus rather than in the dorms with the rest of the students?  And what's the big secret, that keeps the villagers from interacting with the students?

Right from the start, this book had a deliciously dark and spooky feel to it, and the author never lets the tension slip.  I was glued to it through and through!  Have you been to Maine?  I have, and I can vouch for the coastal islands having an intermittent deep fog that drifts in off the ocean.  I could just imagine Anne waking up in a chilly attic bedroom on the first morning of school, shivering into her school uniform and a coat, and walking toward school.  Can you imagine walking through a deep fog and suddenly coming upon a thick red line painted across the road, marking the territory between school grounds and village property?  That would spook nearly anyone!  And then to arrive at school and find out that none of your peers are friendly or welcoming?  As I mentioned:  delightfully dark.

The setting isn't the only dark part of the book.  You'll definitely start to get the feeling that "something's up" from the near the beginning of the book.  No spoilers, but I will promise that although the jacket cover doesn't mention anything fantastic or supernatural, I will let you know that the novel fits on this blog.  ;)  The plot twists and turns will leave you guessing right up to the end.  The novel is told entirely from Anne's pov, so the reader gets to uncover clues and come to conclusions right alongside her.  Wiebe did a great job with spacing out clues and reveals, and with never allowing Anne to make improbable leaps to conclusions.  As I was reading, I kept thinking "ah ha!" but then by the end of the chapter I'd be surprised again!  All of the surprises, though, fit very nicely into the novel's context, and never seemed too ludicrous.

There was only slight downside to the book, and that was in the female relationships.  There's a bit of a Mean Girls thing going on at Cania Christy.  I definitely say "boo" to girls being catty to each other, but I have to admit it might not be too abnormal among teen girls, especially ones forced to live together.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is the first book in a trilogy, and I'm so glad!  I already have the sequel sitting beside my armchair to read.


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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2 People left their mark' :

  1. Oh my goodness! I absolutely adored this book when I first read it - had to wait so long for the sequel but it was worth it :)


  2. This sounds awesome! The cover seems to fit the story very well, too. :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straighforward Fiction Book Reviews