________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 4 . . . . September 26, 2014


The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant.

Joanna Wiebe.
Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, 2014.
320 pp. hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-939529-32-9 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-939529-33-6 (ebook).

Subject Headings:
Boarding schools-Fiction.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Laura Dunford.

**** /4


Staring into the blackness beyond the beam of my flashlight, I know now there's something I'm meant to find out, some dark secret lurking, waiting to be discovered if I can just point my beam in the right direction and really, truly see. But at this exact moment, I don't see. I hear. I hear something in the woods, and I stop in my tracks as fear like cold, icy water cascades over my back and onto my legs.

I hear another noise.

And then I see them. In the shadows a few feet into the woods - feet from where I stand - two people. Two bodies.



The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant takes place on a mysterious island where the children of the world's elite attend Cania Christy, a private boarding school, and compete against each other to become valedictorian. The students here are wealthy, physically perfect, and obsessed with "The Big V". Anne Merchant knows she does not belong here; her father is a simple funeral director, and she is far from perfect. As she begins to learn more about the school, its students and teachers, Anne becomes aware that Cania Christy is not simply a school - but what is it? This is a deliciously dark and smart Gothic fantasy that pulls you in from the beginning and manages to surprise you again and again.

     Anne, a strong female character who is dealing with the death of her mother and growing into her body, is a thoroughly believable figure. Wiebe uses Anne's developing sexuality and connection to the dead to create a disturbing and fascinating weave of character voice and atmosphere.

     The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is a definite must-read for any teen (or adult) with a taste for dark tales.

Highly Recommended.

Laura Dunford is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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