Publisher: Harlequin-Graydon House Books (U.S. & Canada), Graydon House
Date of publication: August 21st, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
“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…
Trigger Warning: Infanticide
I am a huge fan of books set in Tudor England. Actually, any book set in England pretty much has my interest but that period intrigues me the most. When I saw that Harlequin was offering this for review through NetGalley and my interested was caught. Then I saw that it was by Nicola Cornick and that pretty much sealed the deal for me. I had reviewed House of Shadows by her last year and enjoyed it. I am glad that I decided to request The Phantom Tree. This book was fantastic. I was taken on a time-traveling journey between Tudor England and present-day England.
As stated above, The Phantom Tree is set in both Tudor and present-day England. I loved that the author was able to take the scenes from present day to past and back without any sort of confusion. When a book is set in the past and present of a place, I tend to get confused on the details or notice that the author has left something out. Not this time. I did not notice anything missing. And if I thought I did, it showed up later in the book with an explanation.
There are two main plots of The Phantom Tree and a few subplots. The book follows Alison Bannister on her quest to find out what has happened to her son that was taken from her. Only thing, her son was born in Tudor England and Alison has time traveled to present day England. Mary Seymour agreed to help Alison with her quest before she left. But with Alison being in the future, that has made it hard to do.
The other main plot centers around Mary Seymour. While it does give more background on Alison, it weaves a great supernatural element into the book. It also explains how Mary left her clues for Alison. It was very interesting to read from her perspective. Even though she was pretty much transparent in the book, I felt that there was an air of mystery to her.
I didn’t know what to feel about Alison. There was such a range of emotions that she invoked in me. Pity because she was trying to find any word on her son. Irritation because she didn’t allow herself to have feelings for Adam. Apprehension when she had to make that choice. Like I said, a range of emotions.
Mary came off as a bit cold in the first half of the book. I could see why. She was raised in an environment where people barely tolerated her and in some cases, feared her. She was different from the other girls. Not because she was an impoverished princess but she was otherworldly. She had visions that came true. But, in the last half of the book, I felt that she came to life. And I loved it.
I loved the time travel element of the book. It was written in a way that made total sense to me when I read it. I do wish that the author disclosed how Alison traveled through time a bit sooner in the book. I also like the twist that the author disclosed towards the end of the book. That twist was not expected and it played a huge role in how Mary’s story ended.
I thought the romance between Adam and Alison was a little forced. While it went perfectly with the story, I couldn’t get into it.
The end of The Phantom Tree was sad and happy at the same time. Alison’s storyline was wrapped up perfectly and Mary’s, well I am not going to get into it. You need to read the book to find out about her. I did like that the storylines were wrapped up in a way that satisfied me.
Pros of The Phantom Tree:
A) It is set in England
B) Well written story with a great plotline
C) The supernatural aspects of the book
Cons of The Phantom Tree:
A) Alison and Adam’s romance
B) Mary coming off as cold and standoffish
C) The twist. Didn’t see it coming
I would give The Phantom Tree a rating of Older Teen. There is violence and talk of sexual situations (but no sex scenes). There is a scene that talks about a newborn being thrown into a fire as well as the accompanying scene where Mary overhears it happening. Keeping those in mind, I feel that under anyone under 16 shouldn’t read the book. I would also include a trigger warning about the infant scene.
I would recommend The Phantom Tree to family and friends but I would include a warning about what I mentioned above. This is a book that I would definitely reread.
I would like to thank Harlequin-Graydon House Books, Graydon House, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Phantom Tree.
All opinions stated in this review of The Phantom Tree are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**