Any book that is promoted as Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials has a lot to live up to.
Enter the novel in question, The Wicked Deep. A novel that I have had pre-ordered since August of last year in hopes of it being that perfect representation of everything I love about Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic while also bringing something new and exciting to the Wiccan altar.
I received an ARC of The Wicked Deep in exchange for an honest review, via NetGalley. With that in mind, lets get into the review, shall we?
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The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon Pulse (March 6, 2018)
Print Length: 320 pages
Audiobook Length: 8hrs and 59 mins
Narrator: Casey Turner
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.
This novel was fantastic!
Told from the perspective of 17-year-old Penny Talbot, The Wicked Deep weaves together a centuries old curse with a modern day love story that could leave Penny, the newcomer Bo, and the rest of the town of Sparrow into infinite mourning.
Ernshaws writing is incredibly spellbinding, pun intended, which is probably why I had a hard time putting The Wicked Deep down. She has taken the traditional tropes associated with YA paranormal witch novels and breathed new life into it. The mystery angle of the novel was two fold. The more prominent is who the Swan sisters have possessed This mystery is revealed over both the main narrative as well as the inclusion of what happened when the sisters were drowned. The lesser but never the less equally important mystery is what happened to Penny’s father. I can’t tell you how heartbroken I was when this plot point was revealed. Both of these will have you picking your jaw up off the floor, that much I will tell you.
Penny Talbot was a wonderful protagonist. She was both comforting in the sense of a character I’ve known for ages while also being a unique representation of the 21st century young woman. While there was a hint of insta-love between Penny and Bo, I still felt that it was slow burning enough to make me care about the outcome. Speaking of Bo, he didn’t remind me of any YA male protagonists. He wasn’t broody or angsty, given his tragic past, and offered both something to Penny as well as the plot. Of course my favourite characters had to be the Swan sisters. Each offered something different, with Marguerite being headstrong, Aurora being seductive, and Hazel being relatable, I wouldn’t mind if Ernshaw wanted to write a prequel of the girls time before Sparrow.
I guess my only warning is that the ending will wreck you. The choices each character, both good, bad and morally ambiguous, will leave you with a pool of emotions that you have no idea how to interpret.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
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And that is my review for Shea Ernshaw’s The Wicked Deep. Have you read any wickedly witchy reads? Leave your recommendation below and help my TBR grow.