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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Review: The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

See... I did say that I was getting a taste for historical fiction and time-slip books... and Nicola Cornick's The Phantom Tree is a fantastic example of the beautifully complex and detailed writing that seems to be at large in this genre.

The Phantom Tree follows two heroines across two main time-periods (though there are hints of many others throughout the novel). Alison avoids everything to do with the distant past – because it tends to dredge up memories- of everything she lost when fell from the second half of the 16th century into the present day. Ten years later, she is still searching for answers that will set her mistakes to rights and help her past rest easily.

Mary Seymour is the daughter of one queen and the niece of another. She is now unwanted- shipped
from one place to another as distant relations are expected to care and provide for her. When she encounters Alison, they are far from friends- but soon forge ties that will bind them across the centuries.

The author’s writing is gritty and disturbing- and as far from sentimental as it is possible to get. She describes two heroines who are thrown together- and their mutual discord forges a link that makes this book impossible to put down. Alison is as abrasive in the 16th century as she is in the present day – but this didn’t stop me from rooting for her and hoping against hope that she finds peace and a way to live her life happily.

Mary was an incredible character to follow- again, incredibly flawed, but I couldn’t help but admire her as she grew from a lost little girl, scared of the visions that plague her, into a woman of wit and cunning. Her story left me completely speechless- I love those moments when an author manages to snatch your breath away!

The time-slip element of this book was beautifully written and completely believable. It isn’t over- explained, just enough for me to accept it as fact. Although this novely reads brilliantly as a stand-alone, I felt that there is certainly scope in the set-up for further books in this series, if the author fancied heading in that direction – and I would definitely be pre-ordering them if that was the case.

The Phantom Tree is a deft, detailed, un-put-down-able book. I didn’t want it to end!

Paperback:                     Kindle:

The Blurb:
“My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”

Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.

The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.

But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…

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