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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw


Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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 have been seeing this book on NetGalley for a long time, admiring the beautiful cover, but not being too tempted to request a copy.  But I became much more interested when I attended an author forum at the Bay Area Book Festival in April.  I took a chance and was not disappointed.  This was a moody, broody tale with some fun twists.

What I Liked:
The book is set in a small town in Oregon with a dark history.  Nearly two hundred years earlier, three sisters were accused of witchcraft and drowned.  Now, in modern times, boys mysteriously drown each summer.  Could this be the sister's revenge?  

I liked the layers of history in the village.  The book alternated between modern times, and two centuries prior.  The author walked the reader around town, with many of the same shop buildings still standing, just with different businesses.  Not much has changed, including the attitudes of the villagers.  The townspeople were still weary of new people.  They were also very happy to blame young women for the drownings.

Also in the story island where much of the action takes place, close enough to the coast, but remote enough to have a very different vibe from the town.  The wind-swept vistas and rapidly changing weather seems to reflect the mood of each scene.

The novel is centered around Penny, who lives on Lumiere island with her mother.  She motors across the bay to attend high school, and hang out with her best friend, Rose.  But since her father disappeared three years ago, her mom has spiraled into a deep depression.  Penny would love to leave the area after high school, but feels guilty about leaving her mom.  I do not usually enjoy the "missing parent" trope, but in this case I thing it served a useful purpose.  When there are difficult family situations, I think teens do feel conflicted about leaving someone behind.

I also liked Rose, Penny's best friend.  I found her character to be very realistic. While Rose and Penny were BFF's, Rose also had other friends.  Her world was not centered around Penny.  Sometimes Rose was not as clued in to what was happening with Penny, but that is real-life.  This was refreshing, as Rose didn't exist in the novel for the sole purpose of being the sidekick.

This is a story about reflecting on the past and redemption.  The town has a lot to atone for, but only some people, mostly women, seem to realize this.  I appreciated that the ghosts of the Swan sisters would be hard pressed to forgive the town for killing them.  But how long can the sister's revenge go on?  Haven't the sisters become just as bad as those who condemned them?  If you literally only live for revenge, is that really living?

I really enjoyed how the book alternated between modern times and 1820, when the Swan sisters lived.  Of course, the truth about why the girls were accused of witchcraft is much more complicated than one originally thinks.  I liked how this unfolded, and got teary when I understood what actually happened.  

Without giving anything away, there were some fantastic twists in this novel!  Some people are not what they seem, while others have hidden motives for their actions.  These plot turns were hinted at in fun little ways, so when the big reveal happens, we can accept it. 

What I Was Mixed About:
Here is my one quibble about the book:  I think it was a stretch to believe that a town would use the tragic drownings of young men as a tourist event.   While I liked the creativity of the various traditions the town had (bonfires marking the beginning and end of the season, ringing a bell when a body is found), I found it strange that people just accepted that boys would drown each summer.  There didn't seem to be much investigating by the police as to what was happening.  And I think tourists wouldn't be clamoring to witness these deaths.  


Release Date:  March 6th, 2018

Publisher:  Simon Pulse

Author:  Shea Ernshaw

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Page Length:  308 pages

Source:  Bought

Format:  Hardcover Book

Recommendations:  A fun, moody book about revenge and redemption.
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1 comment :

  1. Ooh nice! I have this one in my TBR pile because it sounded mysterious and eerie! My kind of read! Lol! Glad to hear you enjoyed it for the most part! Nice review!


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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
clean sweep 2017

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