Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Atria Books
Released: December 7, 2021
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Controlling behavior, missing person
A History of Wild Places caught my attention because it promised to be this interesting blend of fantasy, thriller, and suspense. As this is a magical combination I am always looking for, I knew I had to give Shea Ernshaw’s writing a chance.
Travis Wren is good at finding people. His talent goes beyond being ordinary and into extraordinary – and supernatural. He’s been set on the trail of Maggie St. James, though whether or not he found her is anyone’s guess, as he too went missing.
Travis went missing near a place called Pastoral, and it is here that the rest of the story takes place. This is a quiet community that fears the outside world to an excessive degree. It makes one wonder what they had to do with the now multiple cases of missing people.
“Silence can hold a thousand untold stories.”
A History of Wild Places is both everything and nothing like what I expected. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately, but it’s true! I wasn’t sure if I should be expecting more fantasy than thriller, or vice versa. What I got was…unexpected. But it worked so well with the story at hand.
What surprised me is that there is a bit of a horror undertone in the mix. It’s precisely what this story needed. I wouldn’t have said no to a bit of bit more horror. That being said, the balance was delicate as it was, primarily as readers work through all the truths, half-truths, and lies that weave in and out of this little community.
I’ll confess that I like Travis’ story, so when it suddenly switched over to Theo and Calla, I was more than a little disappointed (even though I knew it was coming). As such, I sort of dug my heels in for a bit. Once I let go and let myself enjoy this new story, I found myself enjoying the unique plot and all of the implications that came with it.
Admittedly one of the elements that sucked me into this story would be Maggie St. James herself. Or rather, her stories. That part very much felt like something right out of The Hazel Wood. I almost expected a similar twist to happen because of it (no, I won’t say whether or not I was right – spoilers). Though obviously, it’s a bit more of an adult theme here.
All things considered, A History of Wild Places was a moody and compelling read, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. While unlikely, I wouldn’t mind reading a sequel along the same vein. Or at least another story about Travis and his talent.