Book Review: Rebel Spirits
By: Lois Ruby
Published By: Point
Publication Date: May 2013
Page Count: 304
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Paranormal
I'm a history junkie and the Civil War has always been a time frame that has intrigued me. My earliest memories include tours of plantations, getting Civil War books each Christmas, and watching North and South over and over. For these reasons, I was super excited to read Rebel Spirits. Sadly, this turned out to be just an okay read.
For starters, the title is a bit misleading since the ghost is actually a Union soldier. The only mention of the Confederacy in this one is in regards to the battle at Gettysburg. There is one character, Evan, who participates in the reenactment as a Confederate soldier as well, but other than these two minor elements this isn't a story about a rebel. This is a minor pet peeve, I know, but I still found it to be irksome.
I did enjoy the pieces of Gettysburg history that were sprinkled throughout the tale. These were by far my favorite part of this novel and I am now longing to see Gettysburg first hand. I've always wanted to visit the town and see where one of the most famous battles of The War Between the States occurred. I don't think I'd want to visit during the Battle Days celebration though. All those crowds and the sweltering heat would be a bit much for me.
As far as the characters go, I didn't dislike them, but I also didn't really care about them. Lori is a typical teenage girl who resents moving to small town. She struggles through some attitude issues, but begins to mellow the longer she is in Gettysburg. This is largely due to the handsome Union soldier who begins appearing on her first night in her new home. She later learns that he is Nathaniel Pierce and he wants her to solve his murder. He didn't die in the heat of battle, but rather he was shot in the back at the field hospital while recovering from a bayonet wound. His soul cannot rest until he knows who ended his life.
The ghost story and the murder mystery were interesting, but there wasn't anything that wowed me. I was entertained, but there were slow moments and many times that I rolled my eyes. It also never made sense to me that so many people just accepted that Lori was talking to a ghost. Why didn't people question her sanity? In addition, the instalove in this one is ridiculous. After only a few meetings, Lori is madly in love with Nathaniel. Their romance is problematic. How can the living truly be with the dead? It just doesn't make sense. I could understand a crush, but straight up love was a bit hard to buy into. Furthermore, the way Lori and Nathaniel talk about their feelings didn't feel authentic. The romance drives a significant portion of the novel so I did find my mind drifting a bit and it took me longer to finish this one than I would have liked.
In the end, I found this to be a good read, but not one that I would recommend people rush out and buy. I did like that it was something I could easily recommend to my middle school students - it's squeaky clean and they adore ghost stories. I think this one would have appealed to me more when I was younger, but at this point in my life, it just didn't meet my expectations. Rebel Spirits had a lot of potential, but it was buried underneath frustrating moments.
One Last Gripe: I felt like the secondary mystery concerning the presidential treasures was unnecessary and boring.
My Favorite Things About This Book: The setting and historical details
First Sentence: "I cannot believe we're moving into that creaky old bed-and-breakfast," I mutter for about the hundredth time.
Favorite Character: Evan
Least Favorite Character: Mr. Dryden
Infused with history and mystery, this tale of ghosts, love, and murder takes place in present-day Gettysburg, where the Civil War still looms large.
Lori Chase doesn't know what to think about ghosts. She may have seen a few in the past, but those were just childish imaginings...right? Only now that she is living in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, spirits seem to be on everyone's mind. The town is obsessed with its bloody Civil War history, and the old inn that Lori's parents run is supposedly haunted by the souls of dead soldiers.
Then Lori meets one such soldier--the devastatingly handsome Nathaniel Pierce. Nathaniel's soul cannot rest, and he desperately needs Lori's help. Because Nathaniel was not killed in the famous battle. He was murdered. Lori begins to investigate the age-old mystery, stumbling upon shocking clues and secrets.
At the same time, she can't help falling for Nathaniel, just as he is falling for her....