Title- A History of Wild Places
Author- Shea Ernshaw
Genre- maybe dark fantasy… but not in the way one would assume? Maybe contemporary thiller, maybe women’s fiction. After reading, I’m unsure
POV- Part 1 was a switch between past and present in Travis’ POV. Then the rest of the book is alternating between Theo, Calla and Bee. You’ll need to figure out how they’re all intertwined.
Trope- eerie, cult, dark
Similar Books/Comps- Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, The Removed, The Marriage Pact
Steam level- 0/5
My emotions- spine-tingling in the beginning, a little bored in the middle, intrigued overall
Travis was unique and the heaviness surrounding his personality was evident.
I loved Bee’s character and her gifts
At the halfway mark, both Theo and Calla made me feel yucky, near the end, things made more sense
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.
Part I- effective creepy, dark vibe. The tense switched back and forth between current timeline in present tense and flashbacks and memories in the past tense with different sections. The intrigue level is super high and the writing has a sharp edge of ominous prose.
Part 2 and on was all in a different POV, which changed the dynamic. At first I was just hoping it would return to Travis’s timeline, but then as it progressed I got excited to see out their stories. It wasn’t predictable until it was, but it left me guessing all the same. This cult-like place had tons of mysteries and eerie suspense. The climax was satisfying, everything came together and I felt strangely comfortable with the ending.
Best part- The prose. The writing in itself almost feel like poetry.
What I’d change- The ending was tied into a neat bow too much for this type of genre. I’d rather be given more of a “creep” feel for the end to match the rest.
“Silence can hold a thousand untold stories.”
“No matter where you go there are cracks in the plaster, nails coming loose, you just have to decide where you want to place yourself back together. Where the ground feels sturdiest beneath your feet.”
“I hear a change in the air like the ice splintering along the edge of the pond in winter, thin and delicate. I am the ice: sharp deadly. I will break if he isn’t careful. I will slice him open if my edges are exposed.”