A History of Wild Places

A Novel

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Pub Date 07 Dec 2021 | Archive Date Not set


In this “riveting, atmospheric thriller that messes with your mind in the best way” (Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author), three residents of a secluded, seemingly peaceful commune investigate the disappearances of two outsiders.

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Often hired by families as a last resort, he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—and is soon 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.

“As spine-chilling as it is beautifully crafted” (Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance), 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.
In this “riveting, atmospheric thriller that messes with your mind in the best way” (Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author), three residents of a secluded, seemingly peaceful commune...

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ISBN 9781982164805
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Featured Reviews

This book was magical and dreamlike. Loved every page, will definitely be using for book club and will be referring to others. The author is talented and looking forward to their next story!

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Amazing and rich storytelling! Character has the unique capability to sense the events from crime scenes. Following this gripping mystery of a particular woman, I was drawn by the story of his own past and the honest loneliness that is realized from the world of solving mysteries. Highly reccommend!

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4/5 stars. This book begins with Travis. He has an ability to retrieve memories from items of theirs. He has been paid to find a author that went missing 5 years ago. However, while he is on his track to find her, he also goes missing. A man named Theo finds his truck in the woods, and he attempts to find Travis and Maggie with his wife, Calla. This was a different story line than I have ever read before. I enjoyed the book, but felt it was a little confusing when the story switched from Travis to Theo and Calla. Other than that, it was a great read and I enjoyed the characters. Thank you to NetGalley for the arc!

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Ernshaw is a best-selling author of YA books ("The Wicked Deep", "Winterwood" and "A Wilderness of Stars"), but this is her first adult novel. We are introduced to Travis, who has been gifted with some psychic ability. He has been hired to find Maggie who is a famous writer of dark and creepy children's books. She has been missing for five years and just as he gets close, Travis goes missing as well. The story then switches to the community of Pastoral, and isolated place that no one leaves from. Theo and Calla live there with Calla's sister Bee. They have been told that if they leave, they will die from the 'rot' that lives beyond the borders...but Travis feels a need to go past the borders and explore. This is an atmospheric, somewhat creepy tale that is reminiscent of darker fairy tales. It is a wonderful recommendation for readers who enjoy stories that are unusual but still easy to follow.

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A History of Wild Places starts off with a missing woman, Maggie St. James, a famous children’s book author who has been missing for the past five years. Her parents hire a man named Travis who has a special way of tracking people to go look for their missing daughter. After readers learn the story of Maggie and meet Travis we jump into the lives of those who live in a secluded community deep in the woods called Pastoral. Here in Pastoral we follow Calla, her husband Theo, and her sister Bee as they manager their daily life and relationships with those around them. Pastoral seems like a beautiful community but there is one issue, the people may not leave due to a fatal sickness that exists within the woods. When an unexpected issue arises the community is faced with the hard decision of leaving the community to get help or not. During this pressured time secrets are exposed and many questions are raised.

I loved this book so much. Shea Ernshaw has been one of my favorite authors since her first book, The Wicked Deep, came out a few years ago. I love her writing and the settings she creates. They are so magical and eerie at the same time and this was definitely the case with Pastoral. With that being said I would love to live in a place like Pastoral, minus the sketchy parts/people. The characters were also amazing and so well written that I felt like I knew them personally and was living with them in Pastoral.
I will say that I really thought that the story/twist was going to go a completely different way so I was shocked to say the least when it plot twist happened.

If you are a fan of eerie settings, cults, communes, or just straight up good stories I highly recommend this book!

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This story really hit for me. First of all, I've lived in Oregon and I am aware of two current, active communes in the mountains. So, the possibility of something like this story playing out is weirdly real.

This deals with a lot of BIG concepts and forces you to ask questions in the best way. Can you love someone, romantically or otherwise, without knowing who they or even you, are? How long can you watch something wrong go on before you decide it's not right anymore? Above all, how to survive in a world that never ceases its chaos?

What made this book an absolute treasure, though, is the methodical plot that doesn't really give up any solid answers, but seems to just build more and more questions until the suspense is holding you captive. The slow, eerie manner in which the story unfolds places it in a category I'd love to call "Horror-Mystery." By the time you're really feeling claustrophobic and paranoid, things start making more sense and honestly, that just adds to the mounting dread.

This played out like a movie in my mind. It was so visceral and easy to see. It's not a "quick" read, but one you should savor. The way everything ended was just...kind of natural and amazing. If you love psychological horror, I recommend everyone go get lost in these woods...

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This book is mysterious in multiple ways. Not only is Travis, a kind of psychic finder, searching for a children's book author gone for five years, but the structure of the novel -- which abruptly stops following Travis as he's searching in some spooky rural woods and then picks up with a family of three living in a commune in the same woods, with no connection made to Travis -- is puzzling and suspenseful. The storyline fills the reader's mind with questions. Why would a successful author want to disappear? What has compelled people to remain in a commune with a dictatorial leader? Why are the trees dying from "rot"? Did Travis visit the commune family in the past? Will the children's book author be found?

Shea Earnshaw's first adult novel's enchanting atmosphere mesmerizes the reader, like a good, albeit dark, fairy tale. The seemingly disparate threads of many lives eventually weave in to a whole as the answers are finally opened to the reader. Deliciously creepy and ultimately satisfying.

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She’s Ernshaw is my favorite author hands down. When I heard about this book being adult and more out of her comfort zone, I said sign me up! I did enjoy the book. Really. But, honestly I love her YA books a bit more. Sometimes I felt like it was a lot of information being thrown out (specially in the start.) I’ll definitely add this to my staff recs endcap!

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A History of Wild Places has been my favorite ARC to date! Dark, mysterious, eery, ominous, troubling, and full of twists and turns, I was kept guessing the whole way! I love how it ended and the character development throughout. Completely unexpected! Highly recommend this one!

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This is a book you need to pick up on your day off. You won't be putting it down until you've figured out if it is a mystery, a ghost story, a fair tale, or something else completely.
I was engrossed from the first chapters.

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A History of Wild Places was not what I expected — not when I first heard about the book, and not even when I’d already started it. And truthfully, I mean this in the best way.
The story, to me, is the rare sort of tale that’s unexpected but founded, magical but real, and tender but wild. It takes root slowly at first, before the world is suddenly built all at once when the pieces fit together and you realize you were holding them the whole time. It revealed some things I knew enough to guess while still surprising me, and handed me characters I didn’t even expect and made me care about their lives, wants, and histories.
I haven’t read other works by this author as of yet, but after this, I hope to soon :)

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If you like to read about communes, here’s one for you! (That you don’t ever want to live in!) The disappearing members, the secret testing of boundaries, the thought about what would it be like to live there … all will keep you reading right along. This is a great curl up and lose yourself in a book kind of read … just stay out of the commune!

Thank you to #NetGalley, #AtriaBooks, and the author Shea Emshaw for providing me with an electronic ARC in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

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I did not look at any reviews of this book before starting to read it, and was pleasantly surprised. The plot was unexpected and the storyline was unpredictable. It was an entertaining read. That being said, and without giving away details, though the explanation of how the community existed as it did was interesting it was somewhat of a stretch of believability. Still a worthwhile book to pick up.

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A History of Wild Places is, among other things, unequivocally beautiful. It's lush and atmospheric and wildly different from whatever it was I was expecting. Bonus stars would be awarded for that mesmerizing cover had I not already awarded the maximum number allowed on this app.

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