A History of Wild Places: Review

About the Book:

Title: A History of Wild Places

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Publisher: Atria Books

Release Date: December 7, 2021

Pages: 368

Genre: Adult Thriller, Adult Fantasy, Adult Mystery


The New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep weaves a richly atmospheric adult debut following three residents of a secluded, seemingly peaceful commune as they investigate the disappearances of two outsiders.download (19)

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.



*I received an e-arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Um, I don’t know quite where to start. This book was mind-blowing! I was invested from the very beginning and was captivated by this deliciously dark, and atmospheric setting. Shea Ernshaw has done it again with another hauntingly beautiful story, and I am so proud of her adult debut.

Travis Wren has an unusual gift, he can find missing people. Families hire him out of desperation to find their loved ones, and he is able to find them with only a single object. He takes on the case of Maggie St. James, who has been missing for years. She was a writer of dark fairytales for children, and simply vanished one day. On his quest to find Maggie, he finds a place that’s only been talked about as legend.

The commune called Pastoral was founded in the 1970’s by people that were searching for a quieter and simpler way of life. This place shouldn’t even exist anymore and soon after Travis finds it, he disappears, just like Maggie St. James.

After a few years have passed, a member of the community named Theo finds Travis’s truck in the woods outside of the borders of the community. No one is ever allowed outside of the borders as they don’t want to risk bringing any diseases into the community, and what Theo did was a huge danger to not only himself, but the entire commune. As Theo tries to figure out how the truck came to be abandoned, it reveals secrets that Theo, his wife Calla, and her sister Bee have all been keeping from each other. These secrets prove that things may not be as perfect as they seem in their isolated world.

I loved trying to unravel the mystery as I was reading, and there were lots of twists and turns. Some I didn’t see coming, and I found myself gasping and squealing! I’m glad I went into this one not quite knowing what to expect, and just being surprised.

I highly, highly recommend adding this one to your TBR if you enjoy thrillers, mysteries, and spooky tales! Coming in December of 2021 from Atria Books.

About the Author:

Shea Ernshaw is the New York Times Bestselling author of the YA books: THE WICKED DEEP, WINTERWOOD, and A WILDERNESS OF STARS. As well as her debut adult fiction novel: A HISTORY OF WILD PLACES (2021). She is the winner of the 2019 Oregon Book Award, and both of her YA novels were Indie Next Picks.
She often writes late, late, late into the night, enjoys dark woods, scary stories and moonlight on lakes.Shea Ernshaw

You can connect with her here:

7 thoughts on “A History of Wild Places: Review

  1. frayedbooks says:

    I didn’t realize this was technically an “adult” novel, I’m even more excited to read it now it sounds so good! Wonderful review! I wish this was coming out sooner than December, I love books like this in the fall months LOL but can’t wait for it!

    Liked by 1 person

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