The Unquiet Past

The Unquiet Past

Author: Kelley Armstrong
ISBN: Paperback (9781459806542), Audiobook and Ebook (epub and PDF)
Publication: September 29, 2015

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.


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She tilted her head and listened to the scratching. It came from the other side of the wall. Good enough. Forewarned was forearmed. Just find the door. Find the stairs. Get out.
     As she felt her way along the next wall, the scratching stopped. A sob echoed through the room. Every hair on Tess’s body shot up, and she strained to hear, telling herself she’d misheard, she must have misheard…
     Another sob, so clear now that it sounded as if it came from directly behind her. She wheeled, her back turning to the wall. A sniffle. Then crying. Quiet, muffled crying. From the very room where she stood.
     No one replied. Did she expect an answer? Did she
want one? No. For the first time in her life, she heard a voice in the dark and prayed it was her imagination. Her madness. Because the alternative…
     “Aidez-moi.” Help me.

Awards and Reviews

2017 - Red Maple Fiction, short-listed
2016 - Snow Willow Nominee
2016 - CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens
2016 - Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People Nominee, short-listed

[Audiobook review] "A captivating mystery with strong characters that would be a good choice for reluctant readers" —Youth Services Book Review, November 29, 2015

"Readers will find the mystery of what was going on at the abandoned house both intriguing and scary...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, October 2015

"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." —VOYA, October 1, 2015

"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, October 1, 2015

"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, September 28, 2015

"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, September 4, 2015

"The realistic landscape of racist microagressions that plague Métis Jackson is heartbreakingly matter-of-fact. A compelling mystery." —Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2015