Narrator: Gabrielle Vaughn
on October 7, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Length: 6 hours, 20 minutes
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You can only hide from the truth for so long.
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.
I put The Unquiet Past on my TBR even before it was released. It is a Kelley Armstrong book and I love her work. She has been a favorite author of mine, going back to reading Bitten all those years ago. I’m not a huge fan of YA series, but she is an author I will read in YA, so of course I needed to tackle this one. Somehow if fell through the cracks and I never got around to trying this book. I’m glad I finally picked it up.
So, I’m sure I read the blurb or reviews at some point, but I didn’t remember anything about it before I put the earbuds into my ears. I knew it was YA and that was about it. I learned it is a YA mystery with some hints at paranormal.
Tess is an orphan at Benevolent Home of Necessitous Girls. She’s sixteen when the home burns down. They find homes for the younger girls, but the older ones, like Tess, they give them a little money and a small piece of information about their past and send them out into the world. Tess leaves the only home she’s ever known in Hope, Ontario or Quebec to find this address which might hold some information about her past. She was also given a phone number, but it is no longer in service.
Tess runs into a boy, Jackson, at the address, which is nothing more than a rundown house. The pair end up working together to find out Tess’s past. They have some issues along the way. Not just in searching down information, but also between the two of them. Neither are completely forthcoming with information, especially Jackson. He leaves out some very important information, which later comes out.
I did mention a hint of paranormal aspects in this story. Tess sees things. She sees people who don’t seem to notice her. She thinks it might be ghosts. I don’t want to go into more detail on this, because of spoilers, but it is interesting twist to the story.
The pace of this story is a bit slow. I would’ve liked to have seen more on the solving of this mystery of Tess’s family and less on the issues between Tess and Jackson. But the pace does pick up towards the end of the book.
I enjoyed some of the topics visited in this book. It addresses preconceived notions about certain groups of people including Native Americans (Jackson is Métis, which goes back to French trappers and Native women), the mentally ill, and orphans. In the early part of the story, before Tess leaves the orphanage, she’s friends with a boy who is gay. They talk about how their friendship keeps people off his back, because they think the two are a pair.
This story takes place in the sixties. The biggest thing that made me catch on to the period was the cost of things and payphones.
It was indeed silk. Not cheap imitation goods for tourist, but a true dyed-silk scar, the kind she’s dreamed of owning. The price? Seven dollars. Tess tried not to gasp. It was worth it — she knew that. Yet had to be almost as much as Billy would have paid for her boots.
All in all, I enjoyed this story. It isn’t very long, 249 pages or 6 hours and twenty minutes to listen at standard speed. It was interesting watching Tess and Jackson figure out the past together, even if their drama was a little more than I would like at times.
This is my first listen with Gabrielle Vaughn. I’m not sure what I thought of her. Her voice was very… Hmm. What is the word I want to use? Soft maybe. It wasn’t bad (please check out the sample at Audible), it just took me a bit to get used to it. The more I listened, the more the voice grew on me. She became the voice of Tess. I think some of that came with the voice of some of the adults and the voice of Jackson which were less soft. I don’t think she was a bad choice for YA. I’m not sure I would want to listen to her read a action packed UF series, but she worked for this story.
Listen to a clip here.