Book Review: The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

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Last year, I read another novel by Nicola Cornick and found myself eager to try The Phantom Tree when I saw it listed on NetGalley. I was awarded the book about a month ago and scheduled it for this week. If you’ve never read something from Cornick, think of it as a combination of historical fiction, fantasy, romance and mystery. All four elements are usually incorporated into her style and provide a very intense and sometimes Gothic read. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from her.

This story takes place in two different time periods in the UK — the mid 16th century and modern times. In modern times, a ~30ish woman named Alison has re-connected with a former boyfriend who has announced a discovery that he’s found a portrait of Anne Boleyn, a rarity. Alison knows this is really a painting of Mary Seymour, the daughter of Queen Katherine Parr (Henry VIII’s last wife) and her second husband. But how does she know? And will she and Adam reunite or will the reasons they separated a decade ago still keep them apart? In the 16th century, Mary and her cousin are teenage girls dealing with the potential of forced marriages and interested lovers. One becomes pregnant. Another seems destined to be a witch. But then something odd happens, the girls are separated, and the child is lost seemingly forever. How are the stories connected? Who’s related to whom in the current day? It’s quite a fantastical story, but one I really adored.

My favorite aspects of Cornick’s novels are her writing style. Pages will describe a scene or a setting and you are immediately transported there. It’s lyrical and haunting at the same time. Occasionally it can be a lot to handle (I’m often a plot guy), but it’s breathtaking to just read a few paragraphs from time to time. You’ll know how writers live in their heads coming up with something so detailed they can’t help but want to share it with their readers.

I also really connect with the historical truths in the books. Mary Seymour was thought to have died quite young and disappeared, but some feel she actually survived. Cornick takes that notion and runs with it in this book, and while parts are fabricated, it’s woven in such an endearing way, you like the fictional components. It draws you in and gives you a fair balance of story and facts. That’s the kind of read I enjoy!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.


24 thoughts on “Book Review: The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

    kraftireader said:
    April 10, 2018 at 8:22 AM

    I really enjoyed this story.

    Liked by 1 person

    The Cozy Pages said:
    April 10, 2018 at 9:57 AM

    Jay, you’re doing an excellent job of selling me on this one. *sigh* Off to Amazon… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Books,BooksAndMoreBooks said:
    April 10, 2018 at 10:17 AM

    I loved this story!

    Liked by 1 person

    Betty said:
    April 10, 2018 at 11:52 AM

    Wonderful review! I was recently approved for this one on Netgalley, and I’m looking forward to reading it even more now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      April 10, 2018 at 11:56 AM

      I appreciate it. I look forward to your review, too. It was great.


    theorangutanlibrarian said:
    April 10, 2018 at 2:17 PM

    I’ve never actually read Follet before and you’ve definitely made me feel like I’m missing out 😉 Amazing review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    inspirationpie said:
    April 11, 2018 at 4:00 PM

    I love the alternate time aspect of this. It sounds really good! Great review too! 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      April 11, 2018 at 4:14 PM

      Thanks. It blended fantasy and historical fiction quite well! I really enjoy her work.


    Wonderful review Jay! I’ve read a couple of her previous books and really enjoyed them. I saw this on NetGalley and came so close to hitting that request button, but managed to control myself. I’m not going over there now. I’m NOT!😒

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      April 11, 2018 at 4:50 PM

      I won’t tempt you. I’ve done it too much lately. It’s good, but you can hold off a little longer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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