The Phantom Tree

The Phantom Tree

by Nicola Cornick


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In the tradition of the lush, historical dramas of Kate Morton, Philippa Gregory and Barbara Erskine, USA TODAY bestselling author Nicola Cornick's The Woman in the Lake is a delicious tale of jealousy, greed, plotting and revenge that spans the generations between decadent Georgian society and present day.

Discover why Publishers Weekly calls Nicola Cornick "a rising star"—watch for The Woman in the Lake, coming soon from Graydon House.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781525805998
Publisher: Graydon House Books
Publication date: 08/21/2018
Edition description: Original
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 217,086
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes historical romance for HQN Books and time slip romance for MIRA UK. She became fascinated with history when she was a child, and spent hours poring over historical novels and watching costume drama. She studied history at university and wrote her master’s thesis on heroes. Nicola also acts as a historical advisor for television and radio. In her spare time she works as a guide in a 17th century mansion.

Read an Excerpt


Alison, Marlborough, Wiltshire, the present day

She saw the portrait quite by chance, or so she thought.

It was eight weeks to Christmas and the rain sodden streets of Marlborough already glistened in the gaudy light of the decorations that were strung from buildings and lampposts. The wind was strong that night and the illuminations swung back and forth scattering shadows and shards of colour over the late-night shoppers below. A Victorian market was being held in the town square and the air was thick with the smell of grilled sausages and hot soup. It made Alison feel hungry.

She put her head down and increased her pace against the fine rain that slicked the pavements. She hated this sort of faux historical event with rosy, smiling stallholders dressed up in costume. Beneath the crinolines and jackets they had on their thermal vests and long johns to guard against the cold. They had waterproof boots and raincoats. They thought this playacting was fun, a jolly celebration of Christmas past.

She remembered past Christmases very differently; the bone sharp cold, the damp, the chilblains and the hunger that had hollowed her stomach. Even though she had been trapped in the present day for so long now that time had started to blur, some of her past she could remember with utter clarity. Pain, sickness, violence, death, had been a raw reality. Someone thrust a toffee apple under her nose in an invitation to buy, and she shuddered and turned away, picking up her pace along the pavement.

There was a creaking noise high above her, a flap as the wind caught the edge of an inn sign and set it swinging.

The White Hart.

She stared at the image of the majestic white stag as it swayed backwards and forwards in the wind. Its head was raised proudly. Around its neck was a golden crown. It was strange how the most potent and magical of Savernake Forest's symbols survived into this brash and modern world. There were traces of history everywhere; in street names, on inn signs, in old tracks and ancient hedgerows, buried walls and tumbled gravestones. Scratch the surface and it was there.

Alison had seen a white hart in the forest once. Her cousin Edward Seymour had said that the Queen had wanted to come to hunt it, the hart being the ultimate hunter's trophy and Elizabeth being a queen who collected such things. Perhaps she had come to Wolf Hall after Alison had left. She did not know. There was no record of a royal visit but then so much fell through the cracks of the past.

The fresh blast of air from the Downs to the north brought with it a softer scent, of mingled herbs and flowers, wild garlic, basil and lavender, taking Alison straight back to a long-lost summer in the garden at Wolf Hall and the smell of sun-warm brick and hot grass. She had not been happy in those days but still the sense of loss and dislocation hit her fiercely and gave her no time to prepare. There was too much that was familiar here in Marlborough — the town, the inn, the memories. She should have realised that coming back to Wiltshire was a bad idea. But she had had so little choice.

Breathe. Accept. Wait.

The wave of dizziness and nausea retreated a little. Alison found she was leaning against a wall between two shops, rather like a drunk steadying himself as he tried to weave his way home late at night. Awareness returned to her, the smooth coldness of a drainpipe against her clutching fingers, the chill sting of the rain and the heavy, greasy smell of the street market.

She was standing in front of a shop she had not seen before. High street shops came and went, of course, and it was a good ten years since she had been in Marlborough, maybe more. She tried not to count most of the time.

The shop was actually an art gallery, all high-tech lighting and huge windows, its modernity blaringly incongruous in the middle of Marlborough High Street's olde-worlde charm. Most of the paintings Alison could see through the window were equally strident, highly coloured, swirling patterns in oil with huge price tags and no artistic merit in her opinion. Not that she knew much about art. She drew for pleasure and had done since she was a child, but she had no training and no technique to speak of.

To the right of the enormous bow window was a pastoral scene with a spotlight trained on it. It might have been an antique. Alison could not really tell. Below the canvas ran a broad white shelf that stretched along the full length of the showroom. There were a number of smaller paintings displayed there, mainly portraits, and she knew at once that they were old, sixteenth century, to judge from the style and the type of clothing. There was King Henry VIII, painted at the moment his glorious, golden youthfulness was changing into something more watchful and inimical. When Alison had been a child, his name had been used to frighten them all into obedience: "Behave yourself or old King Hal will come to get you." When she had been young she had had no idea what he had looked like but her imagination had supplied the image of a monster. She had seen hundreds of pictures of him since, of course. The English were proud of their infamous, spouse-murdering monarch. Distance had lent the sort of affection to his memory that had never been felt in her own time.

It was odd seeing Henry now, a relic, a throwback to her past. It unsettled her.

Alison's gaze travelled on to the next portrait on the shelf, that of a woman, standing, her hands folded demurely in that style so beloved of artists who wanted to persuade the viewer that Tudor womanhood was modest and decorous. The display light cast a shadow across her face. Alison strained closer to see. This was no one as instantly recognisable as Henry and yet there was a familiarity about her. It was a face she knew.

Mary Seymour.

Alison's breath stopped. There was a tight pain in her chest and a buzzing in her ears. Mary. After all this time.

She had never given up hope. It wasn't in her nature to despair although she had come very close to it so many times. All the history books — those that mentioned Mary Seymour at all — said that she had died as a child. Alison had known that was not true but she had never discovered what had happened to Mary after she had left Wolf Hall.

"Help me," she had said to Mary all those years ago. "Help me to find my son. I'll come back for him. Leave me word ..."

She had not begged, precisely; her relationship with Mary had been too prickly to allow her to show that vulnerability. She had phrased it as an order, but Mary had known. There had been a bargain between them. She had helped Mary escape Wolf Hall and, in return, Mary had promised to help her.

Mary was the key to finding Arthur. She always had been and so Alison had held tenaciously to the belief that one day she would see Mary again.

And now she had.

Suddenly she felt faint with shock, trembling, tears pricking her eyes.

"Are you all right?" Someone was addressing her, a woman with a plastic rain hat and an anxious expression. She spoke in the tones of someone who feels obliged to offer help but sincerely hopes it isn't going to be needed. Alison forced a smile.

"I'm fine, thanks. I tripped over the edge of the pavement and winded myself for a moment."

The woman's sharp gaze scanned her face.

She thinks I'm drunk, Alison thought. She took a deep breath and pinned the smile on tighter. "No harm done," she said. "Thanks for stopping to check."

"Well, if you're sure ... The woman was already moving away, duty done.

Alison found that her hand was resting against the windowpane as though reaching out to touch the portrait within. She let it fall to her side and straightened up, pushing open the door and stepping from the dark street into the bright interior of the gallery. For a moment the harsh light dazzled her. Out of it came the figure of a man, summoned by the bell on the door. He was elderly, greying, with a stoop and leather elbow patches on his tweed jacket, but his eyes were bright, vivid blue, and he seemed to crackle with life and energy. Alison felt it at once, that force of personality that some people seemed to project effortlessly, lighting up everything around them.

"Can I help you?" He sounded surprised that anyone should have dropped in on a wet December evening.

"That portrait of a lady," Alison said. "The Tudor one ..."

"Beautiful, isn't it," the man said.

Alison was taken aback. Had Mary been beautiful? Perhaps she had, although Alison had never thought so. She was the one whom men had admired. She had been curves to Mary's angles, rose to her sallow. She looked at the portrait again, trying to be dispassionate and to ignore the stirrings of old jealousy. She had never liked Mary. In the beginning she had hated her with a child's simple hatred. That had grown into a more complicated set of emotions as she grew up, but they had never been friends. They had been too different and too far apart.

The woman in the picture had features that were neat rather than beautiful: a long nose but delicate and not disproportionately so, arched brows above eyes of an indeterminate dark colour, a slight smile on the pursed pink lips. There was only the faintest hint of the hair colour beneath her Tudor gable hood though Alison knew it to be red brown, like her mother's. Mary's gown was of sumptuous gold and green velvet embroidered with pearls. She looked to be a woman of substance. There were pearls too on the hood and a space where one was missing. That was typical of Mary. She would not have noticed.

She realised that the man was waiting patiently for the question she had not yet articulated.

"It's lovely," she agreed. "The artist must have been very talented."

She saw him smile and realised that she had not quite been able to repress the spite. Mary, grown up, or at least on the cusp of womanhood, made her as jealous as Mary the child had once done.

She sighed. None of that mattered. What was important was that Mary had survived. Thrived, in fact, by the look of it. And that was good because Mary was the key. Mary had promised to leave word of Arthur for her, and Mary never broke her promises.

Alison felt it again then, the dizziness that was a mixture of hope and terror. She could not let herself believe that this time she would find Arthur. The crash of despair that had followed each time she had failed had been almost too much to bear.

"... unidentified." She realised that the man had been speaking all the time that she had been lost in the turbulence of her thoughts.

"Sorry," she said. "Did you say that the artist has not been identified or the sitter has not been identified?"

Now he was looking at her with concern. She caught a glance of herself in the mirrored wall behind the sales desk, all wet rat's tails hair and pallid complexion. No wonder he was fidgeting with the display in front of him, fussily moving an ugly ceramic vase two inches to the left whilst he waited for her to take herself off. She could hardly fit the profile of a potential customer.

"The artist is unknown," he repeated patiently. "The sitter is Anne Boleyn."

"No," Alison said. She cleared her throat. "Sorry, but that isn't Anne Boleyn. It's Mary Seymour."

"It is Anne Boleyn." The man was still smiling in a rather determined fashion. He was charming. She didn't deserve such tolerance. "Tudor portraits aren't my forte," he said, "but I do know that this is a newly discovered portrait of Anne, authenticated only recently." He pointed to the background of the painting. It was dark and the shapes drawn there were difficult to decipher. "Can you see the box?" he asked. "It has her initials on it." Then, as Alison frowned, leaning forward to peer into the depths of the picture: "AB. For Anne Boleyn."

The box. Her box.

Alison could see it, now that he had pointed it out. It sat on a ledge to the right of Mary's head, only the very faintest sheen on its patina showing in the dark background. It would have been easy to miss, this clue, this promise.

"See, Alison, I did not forget you. I have your workbox here, safe for you."

She looked back at Mary's painted face, at the slight sideways glance that led the viewer's gaze to the wooden box and the bold initials. It had been made of walnut, she remembered, worn smooth over the years by the touch of her fingers. She had loved that box, storing any number of inconsequential items in it: her thimble, a length of ribbon, and a scrap of lace. She might have kept Edward's love notes in it had he written her any, but he had not.

"My godson could tell you more about it," the man said. "He was the one who discovered the portrait. He's written a book about it. He's speaking at the festival tomorrow night."

"Festival?" Alison said. She tried to get a grip. She felt strange, jittery. Although the shop was almost aggressively modern she felt closer to the past than she had done in years, disorientated and confused.

"There's a literary festival running all week," the man said. "Adam — my godson — is talking about the painting and about the Tudor court." He nodded towards Mary, serene under the dazzling lights. "It's all very exciting. Apparently, there aren't many portraits of Anne Boleyn."

"And this isn't one of them, I'm afraid," Alison said. Rain was seeping down her neck, making her shiver. Or perhaps the shivers were coming from elsewhere, somewhere far deeper inside.

There was a pile of flyers for the talk spread in an artful fan on the white shelf beside the portrait. She bent to pick one up.

"Adam Hewer," she read. "'Historian author and presenter, unveils the face of Anne Boleyn. Don't miss this exciting event, exclusive to the Marlborough Festival.'" There was a picture of a book cover for Discovering Anne Boleyn and a photograph of the author:


Alison sat down abruptly in a flimsy-looking white plastic chair that she thought was probably part of an art installation. It creaked.

"You look quite done up," the gallery owner said kindly. "Can I get you a cup of tea? It helps, you know."

"I'm fine," Alison said automatically. "Just a bit tired."

Odd that it should be Adam, of all people, who should be the one to lead her to Mary. Or perhaps it was not odd at all. That sense of time shifting, the lure of the brightly lit window, the portrait ... It had not happened by chance. When it came to fate and time she did not believe in coincidence.

She needed to think. She had to get away from the bright lights that were making her head ache with the buzz of too many discoveries, made too quickly. She dropped the flyer back down on the shelf where the edges curled up slightly in the heat of the lights.

"Thank you," she said. "You've been very kind but I'd better go now."


Adam's voice stopped her when she was two steps away from the door. She turned slowly. It had not occurred to her that he might be there, listening, and now she felt a prickle of annoyance that he had not made his presence known sooner.

He looked older than she remembered, but not by much. It was a good ten years since they had met but annoyingly Adam seemed to have aged better than she felt she had. He was tall, well built, with brown eyes that were a startling contrast to his fair hair, and had an air of restless energy that was familiar to her. With a sudden tug of the heart she realised he had become the man she had glimpsed in the boy she had known.

After they had split up, she had shied away from following Adam's career, although she did know that he was one of the new generation of TV historians, celebrity academics who travelled to exotic places to present the past in new and vibrant ways. As a breed they were young, good-looking, photogenic and formidably bright. Apparently, they made history accessible. That had always felt a painful irony to her. History was not accessible at all; at least she did not find it to be.

Adam came out of the office at the back and into the bright lights of the gallery, casual, hands thrust into the pockets of his trousers. "I thought it was you," he said. "How are you?"

He was smiling. Alison remembered the public-school charm, so like that of his godfather, which could smooth over the most awkward of encounters. It had bowled her over when first they had met reminding her painfully of the life she had left behind. She had clung to something that felt familiar in an alien world only to find that there was no similarity between Adam and the men she had known in her past.

Now she felt a disconcerting echo of that teenage confusion and she was cross with herself because there was a flutter in the pit of her stomach and a whisper of what might have been. Stupid, because what might have been had already happened: a youthful affair that had burned itself out.


Excerpted from "The Phantom Tree"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Nicola Cornick.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Phantom Tree 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
4840318 More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars This is the first book that I have read by Cornick, but it certainly will not be my last! I am really torn on my rating for The Phantom Tree because, on one hand, I really enjoyed the story. But on the other hand, there were a few things that just kept bothering me throughout the entire story. Let’s start with the not so positive, shall we? First off, I have no issue with time travel books. I am willing to suspend belief and thoroughly enjoy the story. I have read a few other time travel centric books and the fantasy element is a non-issue. Where Phantom Tree fell flat for me was that there wasn’t any explanation of HOW Alison was able to time travel. We are told she traveled to and from the present a few times, but then gets stuck in the future. But how was she able to time travel? Where is the secret door? The magic cupboard? I mean, why not The Phantom Tree? It’s right there for the taking. No matter how much I was enjoying the story, this kept niggling in my brain and I kept thinking “when are we going to find out how this happened?” Additionally, as I mentioned, we are told that she time traveled a few times before getting stuck. I really kept hoping that in the “past” storyline, we would have seen how Alison discovered she could time travel and how many times she did it before she got stuck in the future. It was all very glossed over and she was in the past one minute and then boom, she is in the future. Even her departure from the past was all very vague, and to me, this is a huge plot point. If you are telling a time travel story, how it happens is a huge part story. Eventually, in the very end of the book, we do find out how she did it. But it was too little too late. And even then, it really wasn’t explained very well. Now, if you have made it this far in my review, you might be thinking that I hated this book, and you could not be more wrong. I actually really, really enjoyed this book! I really liked Cornick’s writing style and the actual plot was a really well told story. I was hooked from the beginning. I will admit, that I enjoyed the “past” storyline much more than the “present”, but the story was woven together very nicely. With all of this being said, I think I am going to settle on 3.5 stars. The story was interesting and I enjoyed it, but there were too many loose ends for me give this a higher rating. I would highly recommend this books to historical fiction lovers and fantasy fiction lovers alike. Thank you to Harlequin – Graydon House Books for my copy of this book via NetGalley
BettyTaylor More than 1 year ago
This book was definitely different than the norm. It is historical fiction with a twist of time travel. There are alternating time lines with Alison Bannister in the present and Alison and Mary Seymour in the sixteenth century. Though they did not consider themselves friends, Mary needed Alison to help her escape, while Alison needs Mary to help her find her son. And upon reflection, perhaps Alison did not dislike Mary as much as she thought she did. The life of Mary Seymour has always been a mystery as she disappeared from historical records when she was only two years old. This unique twist to Tudor history allows Mary to reach across the separation of time to communicate with Alison. I have only recently developed a mild interest in the royalty of the House of Tudor. I enjoyed Cornick’s descriptions of how life may have been in that time period. Cornick’s passion for the Tudor era is apparent in her writing. The historical portion of the book contains beautiful descriptions of the Tudor era. When caught is circumstances beyond their control, Alison and Mary are fiery and strong. The modern day Alison is nothing like the historical version of herself. As a fantasy, Mary’s fictional “visions” naturally led to some believing she may have been a witch. As a child she could not control her supernatural abilities. Then as an adult she had to hide them, and lived in fear of being exposed. But whether in the fantasy portion of the book or the historical portion, Mary “steals the show”. The story really revolves around her. I feel the work tried to straddle two genres – and it didn’t work. It could have been an amazing piece of historical fiction. The story of Mary trying to hide her powers and dealing with affairs of the heart written in Cornick’s beautiful style would have been phenomenal. But the fantasy aspect just did not, in my opinion, work here. I was left wondering about Alison’s adjustment to a place and time totally foreign to her. There is no attempt to explain the time travel, and that just left a glaring hole for me. In fact, the entire present day portion of the story felt too forced and flat.
eadieburke More than 1 year ago
I received The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick from NetGalley for an honest review. This is the first book by Nicola Cornick that I have read but it won't be my last. The Phantom Tree is a cross of many genres; history, fantasy, romance and mystery. It is a time-travel book where the main character, Alison, travels from the 16th century to the present time. Alison notices a portrait in a museum that someone claims to be Anne Boleyn. Since Alison is from the Tudor 16th century, she immediately recognizes the portrait to be Mary Seymour, who was orphaned at Wolf Hall along with her. How does she explain to them that she knows they are wrong without indulging her secret? Meanwhile, Alison is trying to travel back to the 16th century as she needs to find out what happened to her son when he was taken from her as a baby. She has no idea how to travel back to ask Marry Seymour if she has found any information about her son. When Alison does finally find the way back, she discovers that Mary Seymour has disappeared. What I like about Nicola Cornick's writing is that she has taken a historical fact about Mary Seymour's disappearance and has woven a fictional story and has given us a scenario of what might have happened to Mary. Her descriptions of the past and present make us feel like we are right there along with the characters. I found The Phantom Tree to be the perfect escape novel which takes you to an interesting period of history with twists and surprises that keep the pages turning. I would highly recommend this novel to those who would like a romantic adventure with plenty of history.
wjane More than 1 year ago
I have loved and read many time travel books for years. Like all books some time travel is not worth reading or is just mediocre. The Phantom Tree is exceptional! I devoured it, reading it in one day and stayed up late reading with no regrets. The Phantom Tree set in Tudor and present time had all of my favorites History, Historical Fiction, Time Travel, Suspense, Mystery and a love story. Nicola Cornick books just improve with each new book. The Phantom Tree leaves me looking forward her next book and possibly rereading her earlier books. My thanks to the author, the publisher and netgalley for making this book available for me to read and review.
wjane More than 1 year ago
I have loved and read many time travel books for years. Like all books some time travel is not worth reading or is just mediocre. The Phantom Tree is exceptional! I devoured it, reading it in one day and stayed up late reading with no regrets. The Phantom Tree set in Tudor and present time had all of my favorites History, Historical Fiction, Time Travel, Suspense, Mystery and a love story. Nicola Cornick books just improve with each new book. The Phantom Tree leaves me looking forward her next book and possibly rereading her earlier books. My thanks to the author, the publisher and netgalley for making this book available for me to read and review.
onemused More than 1 year ago
"The Phantom Tree" is a fascinating historical fiction that follows two girls/women during the 1500s and in the present. Alison Bannister has been searching for clues about what happened to Mary Seymour in the 1500s- and her reasons for searching stem from a big secret she has been keeping. Alison was born in the 1500s and came through a hole in time to the present. She and Mary had a pact- she would get her out of Wolf Hall in turn for information about her son, Arthur. Through the pages, we follow in alternating sections Mary in the past and Alison in the present. Both girls/women have their own problems and challenges. They are both poor and orphaned, leaving them in the care of relatives who do not care so much for them. They both ended up sharing a chamber at Wolf Hall in this way. Edward Seymour is the man of the house, and he cares little for the charges who reside there, except whether they may benefit him. Mary is hiding a dark secret of her own- she has witch-like powers, which if known, could get her killed. She has tried to deny them, but when she sees visions of the future, they become undeniable. Further, she has a friend with whom she communicates magically- she knows him as Darrell and he knows her at Catherine/Cat. She has never particularly liked Alison, but they have a begrudging respect for each other. Their bargain makes the relationship grow. In the present, Alison has always had a plan- she would find out where Arthur is (he was taken from her at birth) and she would make a home for them in the present. She would then return to bring him with her to the present. However, things have gone awry and she is stuck in the present. To add to this, her former love and ex-boyfriend has the clues she needs to decipher where Arthur is through the clues Mary has left her. As Mary has largely been lost to history, there is also the question of what happened to her. In a fast-paced and fascinating book, we follow the intricacies of these two women's lives and their challenges and romances. I was absolutely enthralled from start to finish and really enjoyed this book! The time travel was interesting although a minor point in comparison to the other drama of their lives. I would note that there should be content warnings for murder, infanticide, and potentially sexual abuse (but given the time, and the relativity of consent, this is somewhat mild). The reader must also suspend belief (e.g. Alison seems able to completely and fully live in the present despite the many challenges there would be, plus the magic elements), but I found this easy to do with the writing style and overall focus. Cornick has created an interesting plot for what happened to Mary as well as the lives of these two women that absolutely engaged me throughout. I highly recommend to people who like romance, fantasy, and historical fiction. Please note that I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
whatsbetterthanbooks More than 1 year ago
Absorbing, heartwarming, and incredibly intriguing! The Phantom Tree is a well-paced, evocative, time-travel novel set in England during both the mid-1500s as well as present day and is told from two different perspectives, Alison Banestre, a strong, heartbroken, young lady running from scandal, and Alison Bannister, a successful, driven, young woman searching for a way home. The writing is effortless and immersive. The characters are multifaceted, tormented, and sympathetic. And the plot using a back-and-forth, past/present style captivates and enthralls as it sweeps you away into an intricately woven, suspenseful tale of life, loss, familial responsibility, coming-of-age, betrayal, deception, drama, mystery, love, and a touch of magic. The Phantom Tree is a beautifully written, clever, unique story, and even though there is not much known about the life and death of Mary Seymour, Cornick has done a remarkable job of taking the barest of historical facts and surrounding them with fiction that is passionate, alluring, and exceptionally fascinating.
Jolie More than 1 year ago
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.