“Love is an enchantress–devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat.”
Hauntingly beautiful and magical, Shea Ernshaw’s debut novel, The Wicked Deep, brings the whimsical themes of Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus together for this story of curses, sisters, and murderous love. The eerie and mysterious town of Sparrow is cursed every summer solstice when the Swan sisters return and the drownings begin. There are always three bodies found. One for each sister.
Seventeen year old Penny Talbot has witnessed the drownings of Sparrow herself and like everyone else she awaits the fate of three unknown souls who will be the sister’s victims. However, this year Penny has found Bo Carter. Bo is an outsider who holds his own secrets, and knows nothing of the curse that weighs upon the town. Outsiders are shunned in the town of Sparrow. But when Bo refuses to leave, Penny hires him to help take care of her family’s lighthouse. The bond that they form is something Penny feels is familiar to her and she becomes desperate to keep Bo and her friends safe from the Swan sisters until the solstice is over. They cannot trust anyone and trying to avoid the witch hunt that consumes the town becomes futile as secrets are revealed and hearts are broken.
I was instantly under Ernshaw’s spell from the very first page, I could not put this book down! She has created deeply complex and emotional characters who all have their secrets to keep. I was very happy to see that some of the language was not ‘clean’. It kept the characters very real to me instead of trying to sugar coat what they were actually trying to express. I was also very moved at how she expressed the emotions of new love and old love. Ernshaw described what love feels like very poetically and also kept it very real. While keeping the realism of teenagers and young love in the modern day age, Ernshaw has also created a legend that has become a household name in the town of Sparrow with the curse of the Swan sisters. I love the little touches of magic she has weaved throughout the story from Mrs. Alba’s forgetful cakes to Penny’s mother reading tea leaves to tourists. They add a whimsical element to the town that has been touched by a death for centuries.
Ernshaw has created a brilliant story that fans of small magic, ghost stories, and quirky towns will love.
The only critique that I have for this book is that there were a few editing mistakes throughout my edition. Even with the rounds and rounds of edits and revisions, I know that debut novels go through this and sometimes things are overlooked. This does not affect my opinion of the story at all.
The Wicked Deep has easily become my favorite read of 2018 thus far and I highly recommend to readers. 5/5
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