Cover Image: A History of Wild Places

A History of Wild Places

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Member Reviews

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw was a gripping story that took me on a roller-coaster of emotions.  The beginning was fast-paced and caught my attention, then the middle was a little slower for me, but the ending picked up and had me wondering what in the world is going on.

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for finidng people who are missing. He is able to sense where a person may be with just one item that is given to him by the families who hire him. On a new case, he is hired to find a well-known author named Maggie St. James. On his way through the woods to find her, Travis Wren disappears just like Maggie.

Fast forward year laters and we meet Theo eho is a lifetime member of a remote community called Pastoral. Here, like-minded people have some together for a simpler way of life. Now, members like Theo, his wife Calla and her sister Bee, feel they are at risk of disease if they stray too far into the forest outside of Pastoral. Nobody is allowed to leave Pastoral and with the help of the guards nobody is able to come in.  But, when outside help is needed to save one will they risk disease to get help or save their members and community by doing nothing?

-This is not my usual genre but in the end, I was like “What in the world did I just read?!?” (in a good way!)
-Cult-ish vibes which is always interesting to me.
-Multiple POVs which was very interesting in this setting.  You were able to get the full picture of what the members were thinking and not just what they put out in the world.

I’m excited that I took a chance on this solid four star read!

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for this ARC that I had to buy from Book of the Month when it was available!
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Wow! I flew through most of this book because I was dying to figure out what was going on. Most of the book has an underlying uneasiness about it. I don’t want to give too much away - go into the book as blind as you can (no pun intended).
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A History of Wild Places was a fascinating story. There was a cult-ish feel, with tragedy, mind games, and ultimately, people hoping to find a eutopia. A home.

This was such an interesting read. I really thought I was going to know where it was going all along, but it was much twister than I expected.

What a wild ride. What an ending. I think this one will stay with me.
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Ernshaw’s writing is haunting as you try to pull whispers of secrets and relationships together to reveal what’s really going on in a cult commune called Pastoral. There’s some magical realism elements, which add extra layers to trying to figure out what’s real among the dark and the sinister. I just needed to know what was going on so I plowed through this book in a couple days. Even though it was so weird and disturbing, my attention was held throughout it! I actually guessed the ending halfway through but didn’t change my opinion of it. I just wish it was paced a little faster overall!
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I am disappointed with this book. I was expecting one thing and received another. It had potential but it was not well written.
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Travis has a unique ability to find missing people. As a favor to a police officer friend, Travis agrees to try to find Maggie, an author who has been missing for 5 years. The trail leads him to an old commune - and then Travis disappears too.  

That was the set up for what sounded like a good mystery.  Unfortunately, this was pretty boring. I had reached the 45% point of the book before anything happened, and that wasn’t much. There were plot holes (like why didn’t the cop come to look for Travis) and the  conclusion was both ludicrous and insufficiently motivated.  The writing was overwrought throughout, but the narrators of the audiobook were partly to blame for that. They read everything in a whispery and fraught tone, which wasn’t called for. I kept reading only to find out what happened to Maggie and Travis. The answer was disappointing. Also, the title doesn’t mean anything. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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A History of Wild Places is a book like no other. I started this book thinking I was going to get one story but instead I got something unexpected. Ernshaw's has a beautiful way of writing. 

The alternating short chapters between characters made this story move at a fast and enjoyable pace. I had my suspicions early on about what could be happening but Ernshaw had a way of making me even doubt myself. While not all of the reveals were a shock to me, they were wonderfully handled.
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This was wildly different from her previous two books. But. It was magical all the same. The way Shea writes about forests is beautiful. This book was thrilling, but didn't move too quickly as to miss anything. I enjoyed this story and the theme that nothing is really as it seems.
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This book might just be in my top 10 favorite books of the year 😍🙌 I went into this book a little nervous because I thought it would be out of my comfort zone, but I was completely wrong. This is a captivating mystery and I was immediately drawn in from the beginning. We follow a man named Travis who has a gift for finding missing people, he can touch an object of theirs and see visions. He’s hired by the family of Maggie St. James, a children’s author who has been missing for five years now. He travels to a place that many believed to be only a legend — a place called Pastoral, a reclusive community founded by like-minded people. But soon after he finds it, Travis goes missing just like Maggie. Years later, we follow our protagonist Theo, who’s been a lifelong member of the community, and he discovers Travis’s truck. No one is allowed in or out of their community, not without the risk of bringing a disease — the rot — into Pastoral. Their isolated world isn’t as safe as it seems.

This story is GORGEOUSLY written. The writing is absolutely haunting and atmospheric and it’s one of the best written books I’ve read this year. I LOVED the characters, I thought they were all so fascinating. I was 100% invested in the mystery going on in this story, and the freaking PLOT TWIST!!! I was shook. What an amazing story. 

5 out of 5 stars. Thank you Net Galley and the publisher for the arc!
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Wild story. I figured out the twist. I felt it was a great start and I was captivated. It then in the middle it just drags and focuses too much on the woods. I loved the ending
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I really liked the character of Travis, a "lone wolf" type who is struggling against his sorrows, but has a talent for finding missing people. So, I was a little thrown off when Travis goes missing himself and the book switches to the perspective of residents of an isolated commune where he was investigating the disappearance of an author of creepy children's books.
I am rounding up from 3.5 because this was a cool story, but it moved a little slow and didn't entirely draw me in.
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DNF I was very bored and had no idea where this book was going. I honestly did not understand the plot. Therefore, I gave up reading. I was very lost.
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This book is so beautifully written it will suck you right in. The first part of the book is eerie, chilly and so well set that you can practically feel the cold against your skin. The first character we are introduced to is one that I loved and was excited to read and see where it went. The Second part of the book was just as well written and I still enjoyed it but it never captured the essence of the first part and I really wanted to go back to that. I spent a lot of the second part wishing for the first part. The second part of the book also seemed to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. It isn't sure if it wants to be magical realism, fantasy or contemporary fiction. That back and forth was a little frustrating. I also didn't love the ending. I'm still giving it four stars because the writing is fantastic and the pacing was really done. I enjoyed it quite a bit despite the few things I didn't love.
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This book is going to be absolutely wonderful for so many people.  I however wasn’t a good fit for this.  To slow and to confusing.  Great writing. Just not the plot for me.
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A History of Wild Places is a spooky adult mystery/thriller combo that immediately hooks the reader with excellent, emotive writing and a fascinating psychological plot. Told in multiple POVs from Travis, Calla, Bee, and Theo, readers enter the world of Pastoral - a self contained compound in the woods that is hit by a disease called rot and their leader doesn't allow them to leave the confines of the community.

I started this book at night before bed and don't recommend you do that because it is so spooky! Definitely read it, but read it during the bright light of day! There is also just a smidge of magic in the storyline which was surprising and welcome. The characters are so thoughtfully written with interesting backstories but the true hallmark of this book is the writing Shea Ernshaw brings to the table. 

I can't even bring up a criticism for this book because it amazed me. I truly enjoyed the experience and the journey Ernshaw took me on. 

**Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review**
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Starting 2022 off with a BANG

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review. 

While it took me a while to finish this book (I would argue that I was savouring it) it would have been in my top 5 favourites of 2021 had I finished it sooner. Everything about this was magnificent. The atmosphere was dark, mysterious, cruel, yet inviting. The characters had so many layers to them that even they were still discovering themselves. The underlying tones of identity, home, protection and trust were exquisite! Ernshaw’s past few YA releases have been great but this is by far her best work yet!! It’s best to go in blind. In the beginning I had no idea what to expect but I can try my best to sum it up by saying that it’s not quite a mystery, not quite a fantasy, but also not quite contemporary….. LOL. Please please please make add this to your tbr!
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What an eerie, intriguing and beautiful read! The author kept me interested from page one as she created a simple yet complex setting with deep characters and an incredible plot twist. As a reader who typically avoids thrillers due to feeling they are all too similar, this is one I’m very glad I read. I will recommend to anyone looking for a well-written mystery! Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for allowing me to read a digital ARC.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing a review copy of this book. My review will also be posted on my Goodreads page. 

A History of Wild Places is a wild ride! I haven't read any other books by this author, but I will sure be checking them out. The book starts with a man (almost a physic detective) searching for a missing woman- a children's author known for her darker tales. However, the detective goes missing, too. 

Fast forward a few years to a community in the woods called Pastoral. Pastoral was created in the 1970's for those looking for a simple life off the grid. The residents of Pastoral cannot and will not leave- the outside world presents too dangerous a place. Calla and Theo are a married couple living in Pastoral along with Calla's sister, Bee. Life in Pastoral begins to unravel as secrets come to light.

I don't want to say more without ruining the story! This is one you have to experience....and the twist- wow! Although the story does start a little slowly, stick in there- the ending is well worth it! 5/5
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Thanks #netgallery for this book. I thought the first half of this book moved slowly and I almost stopped reading. I'm glad I kept reading because I ended up enjoying this tremendously. A few things were a little far fetched but I won't say too much and give away any spoilers.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for giving me a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

5 years ago Maggie, author of a series of dark fairytale books for children, disappeared into the woods of Northern California. Travis is hired by her family to find her and in his search he stumbles upon Pastoral, a forgotten community deep in the back woods, where he disappears without a trace. One day, a member of the community breaks the rules and risks going down the road beyond the border into the forbidden woods and finds Travis's truck abandonned. What secrets are hidden in this idyllic community that has rejected the complications and modernity of the outside world? This is a very atmospheric mystery about a cult with a dash of magical realism and a fairytale vibe. The prose has a poetic and dreamy quality that pleasantly lulls you. Underneath is a current of doubt and dread. It builds slowly, focussing on the characters and building the mythos and structure of the community. In the final act the pace picks up and things get actually dangerous. I was pulled in by the atmosphere and cared about the characters. This was emotional, reflective, and in the end thrilling.
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