The Phantom Tree

This was another book I picked up at HQ’s Summer Showcase and it was such a treat to meet Nicola and feel her passion for historic fiction.

I’ve read quite a lot of historic fiction and am always fascinated when authors choose to link to the present, and the way Cornick decided to do this was spectacular. Alison has been in the present world for over ten years, she’s desperately trying to get back to the past to find her son; Arthur… and when I say ‘the past’… I mean 1560!

Cornick has weaved Alison’s story into the life of Mary Seymour, who’s life is not well known, in fact she disappeared from record in 1550 and no one knows how her life panned out or even when and where she died. What Cornick has done is create a wonderful fictional story from the only backbone facts known about Mary, and it really is sublime!

In the past, Alison and Mary had/has what we would call a ‘love-hate’ relationship, albeit verging more on hate! But over time, they learn to cherish what they have and mutual respect is felt. Which is the reason why Alison helps Mary when it all seems to go wrong, and why Mary promises to find Alison’s son.

Mary senses that Alison is no longer with her in the 1500s, so she sets about leaving clues that Alison will be able to find and solve , those that will stand the test of time.

In present day, Alison has discovered the first clue in a very old portrait of Mary, can she work out the clues on her own? Or will she need some help from a rather lovely ex…

This was such a tantalising read, Cornick flicks between Mary and Alison’s stories, teasing us by drawing us into one story and then moving to the other. I loved having to piece together one half of the puzzle with Mary and the other half with Alison, and when a piece from one side connected with the other – gosh it was so satisfying!

Cornick’s writing style compliments the nature of the past so well; the dialogue, the descriptions and the ambiance are so befitting and also flow so naturally due to the skill of Cornick.

Beautifully written, insightful and powerful – a delight to read!

I’m lucky enough to have a copy of Cornick’s latest The Woman in The Lake so I can get my next fix soon – thanks HQ!

Until next time, Chloé x


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