The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick is a historical mystery where the secrets of 16th-century England might unlock the answers to modern-day London mysteries.
The crucial question in a time-slip story is who stays and who leaves the time period in which they were born. The Phantom Tree is a tale of two women: Mary Seymour, the “daughter of one queen and the niece of another,” and the enigmatic, modern-day Alison Bannister. Mary Seymour’s mother was Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr. Nicola Cornick deftly switches between the worlds of the Tudor-era Wolf Hall and Wiltshire and the London of today.
Alison is wandering through the “rain sodden streets of Marlborough,” eight weeks before Christmas. She’s hungry, wet, and not at all pleased to have landed in a “faux historical event”—a Victorian market in the town square manned by cheerful stallholders in appropriate costume.