“What a wonderful rabbit hole to fall down.” —Erika Swyler, author of Light from Other Stars and The Book of Speculation
“A terrifying and timely book.” —Erica Ferencik, bestselling author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle
“As spine-chilling as it is beautifully crafted.” —Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
The New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep weaves a richly atmospheric adult debut following three residents of a secluded, seemingly peaceful commune as they investigate the disappearances of two outsiders.
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.
YA author Ernshaw (Winterwood) makes her adult debut with a lurid, fast-paced story of a reclusive commune. Travis Wren, a private investigator with psychic abilities, is hired by the parents of Maggie St. James to find her, five years after her disappearance at age 26. He follows her trail to Pastoral, an isolated community founded a generation earlier by hippies in Northern California's Three River Mountains. Ernshaw then switches to life inside Pastoral, with no sign of Travis or Maggie, and where Theo, longing to leave and doubting the warnings from the new controlling leader, Levi, of a fatal disease beyond their village, repeatedly risks venturing past the boundary and finds himself unharmed, but doesn't tell his wife, Calla, about these illicit expeditions. Calla's younger blind sister, Bee, is carrying Levi's baby and is shattered when Levi refuses to publicly acknowledge her pregnancy. When another woman's baby is born in need of medical attention, Levi cruelly punishes the father for attempting to seek outside help. Meanwhile, Theo and Calla discover some items belonging to Travis and Maggie that suggest they were in Pastoral. As the mysteries deepen, Calla, Theo, and Bee piece together the shocking truth about the missing characters. When it's revealed, it strains credulity, and the prose is often simplistic, but the twisty plot brims with tension. There's plenty of fodder here for a miniseries. Agent: Jessica Regel, Foundry Literary + Media.