The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick
I received my copy for review thanks to the Harlequin Publicity Team
Hello Friends! A few years ago if you would’ve asked me what I was currently reading, nine times out of ten, it was more than likely an historical fiction novel. After discovering Susanna Kearsley, I became obsessed with the genre. A well written historical fiction novel can easily snatch you from your current reality and transport you to times and places you can only imagine in your dreams. I was thrilled when I signed up to receive a copy of this from the Harlequin Publicity team and actually received it.
“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…
I really enjoyed The Phantom Tree. This story has the power to have you completely engrossed every time you sit down to read it.
The story has two point of views; that of Alison and Mary Seymour but we get a tad bit more of Alison’s perspective however. Alison is an historical woman who has traveled to present day. This is a spin on the historical fiction story line that I really enjoyed. Usually you have a contemporary woman who travels to the past, so this was a really interesting twist.
An ex lover of Alison’s is a pretty popular historian–kind of gave me Expedition Unknown vibes, where he seeks out historical artifacts and shares them with the world. He is insistent that the latest painting he’s found is of Anne Boleyn and where he and Alison (sort of) reconnect is when Alison tells him he is wrong. She tells him the painting is of Mary Seymour. In the painting, Alison is positive that Mary has left clues for her about Arthur, her son. Back during her time, Alison had a child with a cousin of Mary’s who had the baby taken from Alison. Even in present day, she yearns for her child. Once Alison discovered she could time jump she abused it for a while, and is now stuck and finding Arthur has really been on her heart. So she I trying to get back and find him.
I liked how Nicola Cornick made Alison feel a little detached. It’s not that she doesn’t trust people, but she chooses not to let people get too close to her. Reading from Alison’s perspective, you really feel how lonely it would be to be someone from a different time. I’ve read so many historical fiction novels but this is the first that I truly felt that sense of being alone regardless of how many people are around you and out of place.
I can’t not speak about Mary. I preferred Alison’s story line a little more but my heart went out to Mary. When reading Mary’s perspective, the scenes felt a little darker with her imaginary friend, her visions that come true.. Even though I preferred reading Alison’s perspectives, I felt Mary’s story line was needed. It filled in gaps to the story and helped weave everything together.
My only gripe with this story is kind of something I expect with historical fiction novels–at one point the story moved really slow. I felt as though no matter how much I read, I wasn’t making any progress. The pacing does pick back up but the slow for me, felt really slow.
Those are my thoughts. I definitely recommend this story if you are an historical fiction lover and want to give a story with a bit of a twist a try.