The Phantom Tree – Nicola Cornick (August 2019)

I first came across this book on a recommended list by Good Reads. I then happened to come across it in the library and seized the opportunity to read it. I was so excited. Good Reads had recommend it as being similar to the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon which I adore.

I really enjoyed this book although I admit that it took longer to get into than other books I’ve read. It was only the positive reviews I had heard which kept me reading convinced that it would get better. It didn’t disappoint. By the end of book I had become completely absorbed in the twists and turns of the novel. I wanted to know how it would resolve itself and I didn’t see the ending coming at all. For a slow starting novel it was definitely worth persevering. It took me time to orientate myself in the world of the book. But by the end I was completely absorbed.

I can definitely see the parallels to Outlander. Firstly it’s historical fiction which is my genre of choice. There is a ‘fated’ love story which is central to the novel but doesn’t take over. And there’s the time-traveling too. More than that there’s a calm and soothing element to the writing which I enjoy. I find Cornick and Gabaldon’s attention to detail, particularly natural landscape, similar. It helps me find my feet and paint the narrative picture for me. Even in a fast-paced novel, a well-described natural setting always helps set the scene.

Then there’s the characters. I was unsure about them at first. I found Alison unlikable initially. She seemed cold and narcissistic. Characteristics which are far from endearing. Meanwhile Mary seemed insipid and dull and Adam like the typical dashing male character using history as a means to renown and glory. How wrong I was. Through their narrative journal the characters developed right before my eyes. We come to an understanding about Alison. It was refreshing to hear her own her past behaviour and critique it. By uncovering Alison’s past we empathize with her struggles which she continues to grapple with. Whilst acknowledging she’d never want our sympathy. Mary also grows into her own. She comes into the light and fights for herself. Gone is the lovelorn girl and enters the woman who will fight for what is hers. Recognizing that women can have power and take what is theirs. Lastly, Adam. I’ll always feel a natural affinity for characters who echo my own love of history. Although I confess to being skeptical of his initial intentions. It was great to see him willing to admit an error in historical accuracy in his quest for historical truth. His commitment to history and Alison altered my perception of him entirely.

Bottom line. I came for the time traveling but I stayed for the characters. Well worth a read.

Liked this article? Share it now!