Revisiting Samantha

I’m guilty of picking up books that I’d like to someday pass down, and brought home a slew of American Girl books from the library sale for 50 cents each. I loved these series when I was younger (Felicity is my favorite, with  Molly and Samantha as close runners up). The stories are entertaining, educational, and easy to relate to. Even the books themselves are always great quality.

I’d never read any of the American Girl Mysteries and decided to try The Curse Of Ravenscourt: A Samantha Mystery. As with most of the extra books, it assumes a knowledge of events and characters from the main series. I read Samantha’s stories so many times as girl that this felt like visiting an old friend.

Samantha is still living with Uncle Gard and Aunt Cordelia, who have also adopted Nellie and her sisters. While the house is being remodeled the family will stay at the new Ravenscourt apartment-hotel. Once there, however, they learn that strange events have been happening, like vandalism. Is this the work of human hands, or the result of a curse on Mr. Ravenscourt by a disgruntled tenant? When Aunt Cordelia leaves mysteriously, Samantha and Nellie also must struggle with whether this new family can really work.

The mystery plot is good, but the broader story itself is what sucked me in. Samantha’s historical gimmick has always been her social conscience, which remains true in this book. Though she lives a life of luxury she is sympathetic to the needs of others, especially Nellie’s past troubles. She finds a kindred spirit here in Eloise Ravenscourt, a young woman in a similar position. Their trip to the tenement house is an honest look at the poverty of the time. I also like that Nellie plays an equal part in unraveling the mystery. She has always struck me as one of the most well-rounded secondary characters in the AG franchise, probably because her story is so intertwined with Samantha’s.

The “Peek into the Past” at the end of the book talks about the Victorian fascination with the supernatural, and how many people at the time would have easily believed in such a curse. It’s quite fascinating, and a good link from the plot to a further exploration of history.

Published in: on April 21, 2010 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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