My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

ARC Review: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

I loved Shea  Ernshaw's previous book, The Wicked Deep.  It was full of magic, witchcraft, and ghosts.  Winterwood, her second novel, continues with an even more moody, creepy atmosphere, plus characters who will tear at your heart.  This was a thoroughly entertaining, spooky book!

What I Liked:
The setting is a remote lake in the Pacific Northwest in the dead of winter.  One side of the lake has a boys camp for troubled teens.  On the other side are vacation homes, empty of summer revelers, save one lone house.  Nora, a teen rumored to be a witch, lives a solitary existence.  She wanders the Winterwoods on evenings of the full moon, looking for lost items.

I loved the sense of isolation for both the boys camp and Nora.  With no real adults around (the camp personnel seem to only minimally supervise the boys), bad thing can happen.  The situation becomes even more dangerous as a storm leaves the area cut off with no phones and blocked roads.

No one talks to Nora at school, and the locals spread rumors about her and her family of women being witches.  It doesn't bother her too much because it's actually true.  All the women in her family have some extraordinary talent.  All except Nora.  Even though the circumstances are fanciful, I think every person can identify with Nora.  What makes us special?  What if there is nothing?

We get another perspective from Oliver, the boy Nora finds in the forest.  This is a case of an unreliable narrator.  Is he responsible for the death of another boy?  He can't quite remember what happened to him out in the woods.   Or can he?

I would say that the story was a slow burn.  The author spends a good amount of time establishing the mood of the book, and the story takes a while to unfold.  But it is thrilling!  How did the boy from the camp get killed?  What was Oliver's role?   As Nora tries to solve the mystery, the sense of impending doom increases.

We are also left to speculate if the Walker women actually are witches, and if the young men at the camp are a danger.  If Nora finds out what really happened, will someone try to silence her?


Release Date:  November 5th, 2019

Author:  Shea Ernshaw

Publisher:  Simon Pulse

Genre:  YA Fantasy/Mystery

Page Length:  320 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  Spooky, moody fun!

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2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 120 books.


80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
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