A History of Wild Places” by Shea Ernshaw

Review by Yvonne Selander, collection development librarian

Maggie St. James went missing years ago as backlash against her dark and disturbing children’s book series was hitting a fervor. Her parents asked Travis Wren, a man with the uncanny ability to track missing people, to find her. Their only clue was Pastoral, a commune started in the 1970s, the location of which no one seemed to know. While looking for her, Travis too went missing.

Life for the residents of Pastoral, in the forests of the American Northwest, is simple and self-sustaining. But their clothes are getting threadbare and ventures beyond the boundaries ended years before as the rot encircled their village. Those who leave Pastoral are threatened with infection, a rot that is splitting the trees and can turn a man’s blood to a black ooze and rot him from the inside. Most are content to stay inside the boundaries. But there are a few who are beginning to question and wonder if a world still exists beyond the forest.

This is a book that defies description, and I refuse to say much more. I want new readers to be as flummoxed, confused and enthralled by the story as I was. Is it a dystopian novel? Psychological thriller? Fantasy? Horror? Yes. Yes it is. Enjoy dear reader, you’re in for a wild one here.