The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick
Published by Graydon House on August 21st 2018
Genres: English History, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Tudor Period
Length: 384 pages Source: NetGalley
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“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 subject 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. And Alison knows this because she, too, was in Wolf Hall...with Mary...in 1557.
The painting of Mary is more than just a beautiful object for Alison—it holds the key to her past life, the unlocking of the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance and how Alison can get back to her own time. But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbors secrets in its shadows...
A spellbinding tale for fans of Kate Morton, Philippa Gregory and Barbara Erskine by the bestselling author of House of Shadows.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Graydon House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Phantom Tree is a story of two girls separated by time, their relationships, and the search that holds them together across centuries. It’s a romance, it’s a time travel story, and it’s historical fiction. I was not quite what I expected.
I went into The Phantom Tree expecting something more akin to Philippa Gregory’s writing – a court of Tudor intrigue, incredible characters and a respectable amount of villainy. While there is nothing particularly wrong with The Phantom Tree, it is first and foremost a romance.
As far as romances go, it was interesting enough. Predictable, of course. We have Alison’s love story in the present that announces itself early on, where Mary’s story starts when she is a child and we aren’t introduced into to her love until the last part of the book. That romance is fast and fierce. I think people who enjoy romance stories, and historical romance especially, will enjoy The Phantom Tree. We have rediscovered love, fated love, horrible twisted love… good decisions and bad decisions and everything driven by passions.
I hate some issues with the continuity of Alison’s character – I had a difficult time putting together the Alison of the 1500s with the Alison of the 2000s. They felt like entirely different characters to me. Additionally, the story line about searching for Alison’s son seemed to lose steam somewhere in the middle. Even though the characters follow through on the storyline, their heart really isn’t in it. That isn’t to say there isn’t a story – it really is all about the romance – but the advertised storyline is not the one we follow.
The Phantom Tree will appeal to romance lovers, people who love a light historical mystery. The time travel aspect is light and weak, so don’t jump in looking for any heavy science-fiction or history. It was quite good for what it was, though.