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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The History of Wild Places

ISBN: 978-1982164805

Publisher: Atria

Publication Date: 12/07/2021

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Simon & Schuster Audio

Audiobook narrated by: Carlotta Brentan, Cassandra Campbell, Gibson Frazier, Cindy Kay, Pete Simonelli

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 richly embroidered tapestry deepens in hues as the story turns darker. Readers will sink into this one, and although they might question details of the resolution, they will be moved by the novel's power."

― Booklist

"A lurid, fast-paced story of a reclusive commune. . . . The twisty plot brims with tension. There’s plenty of fodder here for a miniseries." ― Publishers Weekly

“Deep in the woods, a hidden community lives by its own strange rules honed by myth, suggestion, and the terrible powers of groupthink. Is Pastoral as bucolic and lilting as its name, or do the trees split with rot, spewing a pox on all who dare to leave? In powerful, lush prose, Shea Ernshaw has created a world soaked through with the dread of nightmares. A terrifying and timely book.”

― Erica Ferencik, bestselling author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle

“Let the wild rumpus start! A History of Wild Places is poignant and original, and will truly take you to uncharted places. One of the best novels I’ve read this year.”

― Alex Finlay, author of Every Last Fear and The Night Shift

“A gorgeously written tale of a community frozen in time and falling headlong into darkness. The plot twists will leave you breathless.”

― Jennie Melamed, author of Gather the Daughters

“Dark and atmospheric, A History of Wild Places is a twisting, engrossing delight. Ernshaw’s skillful mix of mystery, psychological thriller, and paranormal-tinged drama keeps the ground shifting beneath her characters and readers. What a wonderful rabbit hole to fall down.”

― Erika Swyler, author of Light From Other Stars and The Book of Speculation

"An entirely enthralling novel, a true history of a world that pulls the reader into its depths. It is darkly rich in its setting, and its visual, visceral, and absorbing moments are both haunting and rewarding to the reader.”

― Phoebe Wynne, author of Madam

“A riveting, atmospheric thriller that messes with your mind in the best way. Shea Ernshaw knows what she’s doing.”

― Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Strange the Dreamer

“As spine-chilling as it is beautifully crafted, A History of Wild Places will have you compulsively checking your pulse and the whites of your eyes. It will almost certainly make you reconsider that walk in the woods, or at least, compel you to leave a trail of breadcrumbs in your wake.”

― Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

"A History of Wild Places is as eerie and enticing as a gingerbread house in a dark forest. My advice? Gobble up the whole thing. This book will enchant you with its delicious, dangerous magic."

― Abby Geni, author of The Lightkeepers and The Wildlands

About the Author

I live in an imaginary world

And sometimes, I live in a small mountain town in Oregon.

I have been writing stories and crafting characters since I was young—filling notebooks with stories about magical horses and eerie underworlds. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and I was lucky enough to grow up in a house filled with books, where my parents were always reading or painting or ruminating about the cosmos.

Now, I share my home with my husband, a grouchy editor cat, and two elderly dogs. I also love lakes, deep dark woods, and delicious vegan pastries.

Shea Ernshaw is a NYT bestselling author and winner of the Oregon Book Award. Her books have been published in over twelve countries/languages, and her novels The Wicked Deep and Winterwood were Indie Next Picks. Her debut adult fiction novel A History of Wild Places will release in December of 2021. She lives in a small mountain town in Oregon, and is happiest when lost in a good book, lost in the woods, or writing her next novel. WEBSITE







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