The Phantom Tree

We rated this book:


About 150 pages into The Phantom Tree and I still didn’t know what exactly I was supposed to be getting from it.

The plot flips violently from the present to the late 1550s and involves the lives of two women: Mary Seymour and Alison Bannister. The two women live in a house together for rejected royal offspring. Mary was Mary Seymour, daughter of Katherine Parr, King Henry VIII’s widow. Alison was just a made-up fictional character. Alison gets pregnant at 15 by her cousin, Edward. He takes the baby and Alison never sees him again. Mary gets tangled up in her own bad romance. Alison somehow makes it to the present day, where she has plans to find her baby in the past and retrieve him. In the present, Alison is a historian, trying to figure out what happened to Mary, working with another celebrity historian named Adam.

The premise behind this book is that Mary Seymour was a mysterious figure in history, who might have died when she was two years old, but it was possible she lived into adulthood and married. This book is just one fictional account that ruminates on her life and takes copious fictional liberties while doing so.

The book sounded exciting, but it wasn’t. There was no hook, nothing to grab my interest and keep it there. The book took way too long to explain how or why Alison was able to travel from the 1550s to the present. It was too much to suspend my disbelief to think that a woman from the 1550s could acclimate to the present day, hold down a job that allowed her to travel all over the world, and speak like a modern-day person. The premise was interesting, but plenty of other historical fiction set in the middle of the English Renaissance has done it better.

Reviewed By:

Author Nicola Cornick
Star Count 2/5
Format Trade
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher Graydon House
Publish Date 2018-Aug-21
ISBN 9781525805998 Buy this Book
Issue December 2018
Category Historical Fiction


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