Book Review: A History of Wild Places


Title: A History of Wild Places
Author: Shea Ernshaw 
Publication Date: 2021
Publishing House: Atria Books

I picked up a copy of this book through Book of the Month but also check for it at your local library. It was suggested because it has a similar feel to Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance. I agree to a point; this book is more of a mystery but they are both beautiful and enchanting.

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

I stayed up way too late reading this book and then I stayed awake even later contemplating the story. Travis and Maggie’s lives are sad ones. Maggie is searching for something and Travis is running while hoping for redemption. Theo, Calla, and Bee are trapped; trapped by fear and uncertainty in a life that should be bliss.

Ernshaw weaves memories and lies, love dances with fear. This story is beautiful and I loved that about it, full of forests and pastoral scenes. The story as a whole is a bit predictable but that doesn’t stop it from making the reader wonder about the ultimate outcome.

I recommend this story for those who enjoy a bit of magic, those who don’t fear a story with some macabre elements, and for those who enjoy the mysteries to be found in the wild woods. If you like my review on this book and want to read it or similar, check out Book of the Month. Have you read this book? If yes, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. Happy reading.

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