eARC Review – A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw


Title: A History of Wild Places

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication date: December 7th, 2021

368 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

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.


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.

Happy reading, folks!

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