I love finding old books, especially when they're free.
I don't remember what led me to the Nan Sherwood books, but with free Kindle editions available, I downloaded them for the fun of it. And rather than fall back on a Goosebumps or other expected Young Adult horror title, a haunted boathouse seemed like a good choice for this Bingo square.
The seven books of the Nan Sherwood series were part of the greater Stratemeyer syndicate that included Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Honey Bunch, the Bobbsey Twins, and literally dozens of other series for young readers. Nan's first adventure was published in 1916, her last in 1937.
Nan Sherwood at Lakeview Hall, or the Mystery of the Haunted Boathouse is the second of the series and finds our plucky heroine embarking on her first term at boarding school on the Michigan shore of Lake Huron. She comes from a family of less-than-modest means and would have been going back to the high school in her home town of Tillbury, but her parents have expectations of coming into a windfall inheritance, so Nan has been sent off with her wealthier hometown chum Bess Harley to the "select" girls' boarding school at Lakeview Hall.
The haunted boathouse plays only a tiny part in the story, but Nan's first couple of months at Lakeview are certainly filled with crises, everything from being accused of theft (more than once!) by the spoiled little rich girl, Linda Riggs, to battling a rattlesnake to nearly drowning during a sudden storm on the lake to falling through thin ice and being stuck in frozen mud to her parents suddenly losing their anticipated fortune and being plunged into poverty. Never mind that her chum Bess is less than dependably loyal and has her own snobberies, or that Nan's generosity and integrity are often the source of trouble for her.
Throw in the dashing Walter Mason with his automobile (he wears gauntlets and goggles, and has to crank it) and his motorboat, and you've got the makings of a nice rivalry with the nasty Miss Riggs. And of course there's the intriguing Professor Krenner, who teaches mathematics and architectural drawing and who invites Nan and another student to visit him at his nearby cabin.
There's a lot of innocence in the book, along with some of the horrors of early 20th century prejudices. The writing is overblown just a bit, and the drama mostly exaggerated. The ghost in the boathouse isn't very scary -- and of course isn't a ghost at all, as Nan knew from the beginning because plucky fourteen- or fifteen-year-olds even in 1916 don't believe in ghosts.
But overall it was fun, if eye-rolling.