Arc Review: A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Title: A History of Wild Places
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Genre: Adult Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: December 7th, 2021
Publisher: Atria Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“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)

This is my third book by this author. This one is not like her others as she has stepped out of YA to write an Adult Mystery / Thriller. I think those that have read her previous work will see her writing style is quite the same which was nice to see. However, this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting and although it was unique it didn’t hold onto my attention like I had hoped.

The book starts off with a guy named Travis Wren trying to track down an author by the name of Maggie St. James who went missing. This was definitely a good setup for the story as we learn a bit of background for Travis. It did give me urge to keep reading as well.

From that point on, the book switches to multiple point-of-views. Some I liked more than others. I will say that the character development really lacked and the book is definitely more plot based. I know other readers will be okay with this but for, I need more development to actually care for the characters and the situations they face.

The plot isn’t unique in the aspect of communes but the plot twists that came with it were. I did expect one thing but the rest were definitely out in left field. I’m not sold on the explanations for everything but maybe that’s just me. The book is also labeled as thriller but I just didn’t feel that. It was definitely mysterious but lacked the thrill I seeked.

Overall, this was okay/good read. It wasn’t what I was expecting but it wasn’t in a bad way I suppose. I’m not really sure how to really articulate my words for this one, haha. I guess if it sounds interesting to you, give it a try!


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