Book Review

Book Review: A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: December 7th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

WELL THAT WAS TWISTED.

If you have the option, definitely go with the full cast audio book. I’ve read Ershaw’s young adult books and liked the atmosphere, but often felt they were slow. Reading with the audio book helped speed things up and I think this was an awesome adult debut.

This story was wiiiiild. And so trippy. Started off really creepy and dove into things I didn’t see coming. I was actually blindsided by the twist at the end. An interesting choice, but I thought worked well in the case for the plot. Which is fine, I’m good with that. I thought there were plenty of likable characters. All of the main characters were easy to read their stories, I wanted to cheer for them and help them get out.

Very much bewitching, I liked the tidbits of magical realism too. It made sense and completed the story better than without those extra pieces. I liked this one soooo much better than her young adult books. This hooked me enough that I’m back to wanting to read whatever Ernshaw writes next. Always great writing, spooky atmosphere, and a small dash of romance and whimsy.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery / Magical Realism
  • Language: little
  • Romance: multiple vague open-ish door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: suicide by overdose, grief/loss depiction, loss of a loved one, execution by hanging, physical altercations, manipulation and gaslighting

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Book Review

Book Review: The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult Fiction / Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Author: Katherine St. John
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: June 30th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Belle likes to think herself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth. But when her best friend, Summer, invites her on a glamorous getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend’s yacht, the only sensible answer is yes. Belle hopes the trip will be a much-needed break from her stalled acting career and uniquely humiliating waitressing job, but once she’s aboard the luxurious Lion’s Den, it soon becomes clear this jet-setting holiday is not as advertised.

Belle’s dream vacation quickly devolves into a nightmare as she and the handful of other girls Summer invited are treated more like prisoners than guests by their controlling host-and in one terrifying moment, Belle comes to see Summer for who she truly is: a vicious gold digger who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Belle realizes she’s going to have to keep her wits about her — and her own big secret closely hidden — if she wants to make it off the yacht alive.

THIS WAS WILD.

My eyes were in shocked mode practically the entire time. I didn’t know what I was going to get from reading this, so an incredible fast-paced thriller was surprising and intense.

Have you ever watched the show Below Deck? Because this felt like instead of watching the crew, you were watching the guests. And the guests had utterly jumped off the deep end. I hated so many of them (and that was entirely the point so I wasn’t upset about it). The very few redeeming characters were the right touch for this kind of story.

I really didn’t see the biggest twist and I flat out shouted at my steering wheel while listening because I was SHOCKED. Which then amped the story even more. I loved Belle’s place in the novel and getting everything from her view. I wasn’t sure about the flashback chapters initially. As they continued and started making much more sense I was just as invested with those as the present story.

Definitely had some raunchiness I didn’t love, but this story was just too good to put down. Loved the audio version and I will be checking out her next book. This was highly entertaining and different from my usual reads which made it all the better.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: kisses, open & closed door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual assault, rape, murder, drowning, suicide, suicide ideation, being drugged without consent

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