A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw was my first book of 2022 and I have to say a pleasant surprise. I honestly read the inside cover a few times and was not like excited to read this. When I started it though from page 2, I just could not put it down. The rising and story are weirdly amazing, and it was nice to get something new in a thriller. Like every thriller you guess and guess on what is going on and this one was so out of the ordinary. I also enjoyed that this story didn’t have a big reveal, it just slowly unravels into the ending and gets us to where it wants us to go. We start off following Travis Wren into his search for a missing woman, Maggie St. James. Maggie has been missing for 5 years and the authorities have called off their search, so in desperation her parents hire Travis. Travis has the gift of seeing afterimages, when he holds an object touched by someone else, he can see what they were doing around that time. He goes searching for Maggie in these moods where his truck gets stuck in the snow, and he stumbles across this community and that was it. We then flash to our three main characters Calla, her husband Theo, and her sister Bee. They live in this community named Pastoral, which is pretty much the old hippie idea of a reclusive community where everyone has a say and everyone works together. They don’t have the amenities of the outside world. This community is not all it seems when we start to learn of the fear they live in, of the rot. This is a disease that come from the trees and infect you from the inside out, if they leave the boundaries of the community, they will get it. They live in fear not only of leaving the boundaries, but even the rain can spread it to them. Theo’s curiosity has gotten the better of him though, and every day during his shift on guard duty he goes a little farther past the boundary and stumbles upon a truck. This story is imaginative, creepy, and mysterious. It gives you a trail of breadcrumbs that has you guessing constantly, and even had me thinking oh I know what’s happening and then drops another crumb that totally changes your thoughts. The characters were fascinating and had you genuinely invested in their individual stories and what could be happening to them. I really enjoyed this book, my first of 2021, and hope to read more by this author.
Favorite Quotes – “There is no history in a place until we make it, until you live a life worth remembering.”
“Maybe this is love, the things we endure for the other, the willingness to face death, to stare it down, and not be afraid.”
“No matter where you go, there are cracks in the plaster, nails coming loose, you just have to decide where you want to piece yourself back together.”
“We’ve always needed each other – as if we’d never be as strong alone as we were together.”