The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
Young Adult Paranormal Mystery
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Simon Pulse
Please note: I received a copy of The Wicked Deep from the publisher for review consideration.
I don’t really know what I was expecting going into The Wicked Deep. I read the synopsis a while before I got the book, and didn’t read it again before I dove in. All I knew was that witchcraft was involved!
Penny Talbot is a 17-year-old girl living on Lumiere Island off the coast of a small town called Sparrow. Sparrow might not seem like anything much, but it’s got one thing going for it: a mysterious curse.
Two hundred years ago, three young women moved to Sparrow. They were sisters – the Swan sisters. They owned a perfume shop and seemed to very easily draw the eyes and attentions of the town’s men. Soon enough, they had a reputation for witchcraft. And because of this, the town tied rocks around their ankles and drowned them.
Since then, every year the town has a ‘Swan season.’ At this time, the drowned sisters come back for a few short weeks, from June 1st to the Summer solstice. In that time, they each find a towns-girl to inhabit and use them to draw unsuspecting boys out to sea. Every year for the last two hundred years, each Swan sister has drowned a boy.
But there’s something different about this year. This year during the Swan season, Penny can’t just sequester herself on the island and wait for the end. This year she meets Bo Carter on the night Swan season begins. He’s a come-from-away and doesn’t know what he has gotten himself into. Penny feels a special connection to him and wants to protect him.
Penny also has a secret. Should she expose it to help Bo? Or should she save herself the burden?
The Wicked Deep is very eerie and atmospheric. At times it felt a little slow, but the town of Sparrow and Lumiere island had my attention. They were their own character in this story and I loved that.
The Wicked Deep went in a direction I didn’t wholly expect, and I appreciated that. Overall, I enjoyed it. I didn’t fully believe the love story between Bo and Penny – it felt a little to quick and stilted for my liking. I also felt that the secondary characters were often two-dimensional. Partially this makes sense because it’s a first person narrative, and we get to know Penny quite well. However, I did have trouble connecting with the other characters.
At some points, there were times I thought the narrative was going to dive into the age-old tradition of hating on witches. However, as the narrative progresses, the Swan sisters become whole people, whole women, with stories and baggage unto themselves. I really appreciated this!
If you like witches, atmospheric books, and eery settings, you’d probably enjoy The Wicked Deep!
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Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.