Published: December 7, 2021
Genre(s): mystery, suspense, adult
Read as: ebook, eARC
Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.
Called Pastoral, this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.
Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.
Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind. (Goodreads)
“I’ve often wondered if power does this to a man: unravels him slowly over time, doubt itching beneath his flesh until it’s all that’s left.”
Shea Ernshaw quickly became one of my auto-buy authors after I fell in love with her YA novels, The Wicked Deep and Winterwood. Her writing style sucks me in and completely immerses the reader in whatever world she has crafted.
A History of Wild Places is no different.
When I opened Ernshaw’s adult debut, I wasn’t really sure what kind of story I would find. Her previous two books I’d read had elements of fantasy but, as far as I knew, this one did not. What it had was an underlying mystery, an unsettling little town that gave off strong The Village(2004) vibes, and the threat of something dangerous in the woods.
The atmosphere in this novel is top notch. Even when a character is going about a mundane task like stepping into the house out of the rain, there is still that slightly disquieted vibe running throughout the page. You know there is something horrible going on under the surface of the story, you can almost taste it, but it taunts you and you can’t put the book down until you reach the climax and all the pieces start falling into place.
I loved this book and will continue picking up anything by Ernshaw. There is nothing quite as satisfying as being swept away in a good story and she does it so well.