Monday, January 3, 2022

A History of Wild Places - Shea Ernshaw

Summary: 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. (Summary and pic from

My Review: I am a person who has no bookly self control. I have a very huge to-read pile on my Goodreads list, and a not unsubstantial pile of books on my nightstand, many of which I have obligations to read before too much time passes by because they are ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) or given to me by a publisher (at my request), etc. I also have the ones I've gotten from the library and need to read, sometimes for a theme we RFS readers are doing (look for Black History Month in February on Freeform Fridays!) or whatever else. And then I come along and see a book that is advertised to me on social media or whatever and I just forget who I am and any obligations and read it because I just can't wait. No bookly self control. This is one of those books that skipped ahead in the line. No one likes a cutter, and yet here we are.

I did not read this book because I thought I needed the immediate knowledge and light it provided me. I didn't assume I would come away a better person and that my life would be changed. No, I read it because it looked fun and like a good escape and included a topic that is always on my interest list--weird hidden communities with possibly strange people and maybe some sinister forces at work. Who doesn't love that kind of thing? Srsly. It's reading gold. I'm happy to report that this book delivered. There are twists and turns and darkness and light. There are interesting characters and a tricky plot that, although not entirely original or shocking in the end, still provides that spark of joy that comes when you read a book that was just a lot of fun and a good escape, especially when it's a holiday and you don't want to have to commit to anything but good times, good reads, and lots of yummy food.

I read this quickly. The plot lends itself to quick reading, and I really liked the POV chapters. The writing was inobtrusive and kept the story moving, the reader engaged, and made for a quick read so that I don't feel so guilty about dropping everything else just to be distracted by shiny objects in the form of a book.

I don't want to give away anything in this book. It was a joyful, quick read. The characters are flawed but also relatable, and they suck you in to their story. If you're looking for something that would be a great distraction and a fun change from your normally scheduled heavy reading, check it out.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is language and some violence. 

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