An orphan with visons seeks her past in a Gothic 1964 Quebec.
Sixteen-year-old Tess (for Thérèse) has always wanted to travel, but that doesn't mean she wants to be forced from her home. When the Benevolent Home for Necessitous Girls in Ontario burns down, she's turfed out with a bare-bones clue ("Each of you seven older girls has something from your past," explains the matron, linking this novel to the other six books in the Secrets series). Armed with a disconnected phone number and an address in rural Quebec, Tess braves the train, bothered only by the ghosts she's seen all her life. The address holds no easy answers to either her past or her visions; it's merely a photogenic abandoned mansion, filled with crumbling psychiatry books and long since ravaged by locals. Her investigation of the ruin is interrupted by a hostile squatter, who threatens her with violence. Jackson disbelieves Tess' tale though he refuses to explain his own secrets as a broke, filthy teenager who's exceedingly well-spoken in both French and English—often to the point of irritating pedantry. Tess' visions and their findings in the creepy basement lead her to suspect pulp-novel medical shenanigans, which themselves devolve into a frankly absurd deus ex machina conclusion. Unlike the cackling villainy of the back story, the realistic landscape of racist microagressions that plague Métis Jackson is heartbreakingly matter-of-fact.
A compelling mystery unevenly executed. (Historical fiction. 12-14)