Oct 9, 2018

Review--The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

I had read so many good things about Shea Ernshaw's debut, The Wicked Deep, that I was soon hooked by its premise! A centuries old curse, possible witchcraft, ghosts, revenge...it had all the makings for a perfect read! And while it was eerie and mysterious with a spine-tingling twist, I can't help but feel a little ambivalent about its ending.

Sparrow, Oregon is a small town with a local legend, a curse really. About two hundred years ago, the Swan sisters were accused of witchcraft and drowned. Every year on June 1st, they return, they possess the bodies of three girls and go a murder streak, killing boys and men for revenge on what was done to them so many years ago. That's the legend anyway, but every summer, the town loses boys or men; sometimes locals, sometimes tourists, there's really no rhyme or reason to it.

Penny has lived in Sparrow all her life. Her father disappeared one night about three years ago and it has left her mother stricken with grief. Penny doesn't expect much out of life now since she's almost resigned herself to stay on the island she grew up on to take care of her mother. And then one day, just before tourist season starts, she meets a mysterious boy, Bo, who came to Sparrow with a purpose. He of course, is mysterious and full of secrets, so we don't know what that is, but he claims to be looking for work.

That night Penny and the rest of the teens in town go to the beach to "celebrate" the start of the Swan season which basically runs from June 1 to the Summer Solstice and is the time when the Swan sisters are rumored to come back to town and cause their mayhem and murder. Why this is a time of celebration among the teens is unclear. Reckless craziness I suppose!

It's not long before the Swan sisters are back, for a body is found in the water. It's unclear who they might be inhabiting but Penny has her suspicions. And it turns out that Bo had a very specific reason for coming to the small town of Sparrow and it wasn't for any happy reasons either.

This was quite the mysterious read! I found the legend behind the Swan sisters to be eerie and just a bit creepy, but totally realistic given the time period they were in. Penny's time seems to be more our current day. It definitely makes one think of the Salem Witch Trials for sure! What was really interesting were the chapters that were told about the Swan sisters in the past. They weren't quite interludes, as they happened sporadically, but it did let you get a better understanding of where these sisters were coming from and what their motivation was.

Naturally, there was a bit of chemistry brewing between Penny and Bo. It was a nice gradual buildup though, so nothing "insta" about it! But the romance was kind of a backseat thing, up until the very end. Then things got a little complicated and messy and basically let me to all my conflicting feelings about the romance in general. Luckily, this is not a romance story, so that I was left feeling uncertain about things didn't really bother me too much.

The ending was pretty spectacular! I knew this was a standalone but I could honestly say I wasn't sure which direction things would turn in. Though, I did accurately guess a part of what was going on. It's always a happy feeling to be right! Lol! Even if nobody knows it but me! The final part of the ending though was a mix of being weird and unsettling with just a bit of happy. Yeah...it definitely let me with a conflict of emotions going on. But I kind of liked that, kind of. Lol.

While The Wicked Deep wasn't as "scary" as I was hoping for, it was still pretty eerie and mysterious which is the next best thing if you ask me! I would definitely recommend this one if you liked the history of the Salem Witch Trials or just witchy/ghostly stories in general! It definitely had a lot going for it, it was just the ending that left me with all the mixed feels that keeps me from giving it a perfect rating.

Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars


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