The Wicked Deep
By Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…
Two centuries ago, in the small, isolated town, 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 from the depths, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them down to their watery deaths.
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 or the fact that his arrival will change everything…
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 happen to be a huge fan of witches and all stories surrounding them. I also love the ocean and settings centered around small seaside towns. Living in Oregon, I hold a certain appreciation for these things and feel a deeper connection when reading about them. I have to admit that The Wicked Deep felt a bit like kismet as I picked it up.
200 years ago, the Swan sisters were accused of witchcraft and sent to meet their watery fate with stones tied around their ankles. Now, each summer in the town of Sparrow, the sisters return to claim their vengeance by inhabiting the body of the young, local female residents and luring boys to a watery grave. Penny Talbot is no stranger to the town’s curse. But when young Bo Carter arrives in town, unsuspecting and disbelieving of the current dangers, she quickly finds herself surrounded by mistrust and difficult choices. Will she be forced to choose between saving herself and this new stranger?
“We wait for death. We hold our breath. We know it’s coming, and still we flinch when it claws at our throats and pulls us under.”
What I appreciated..
- Lumiere Island and the atmospheric seaside setting that felt authentic and familiar.
- Stunning and fluid prose with a successful first-person narrative that carries the story with incredible ease. This will be a one sit read for many.
- The mysterious lore of the Swan sisters and town’s darker history was well balanced and complex enough to feel viable.
- Relatable characters with individualized conflicts.
- The unexpected turn of events and a satisfying conclusion.
Challenges some may encounter..
- The somewhat rushed element of romance (although the twists throughout make it appealing in its own right).
- Sometimes one-dimensional feeling characters due to being shrouded in mystery.
“There are legends of mermaids who fall in love with sailors, their devotion granting them a human form. I read about the Irish tales of selkies shedding their sealskins, marrying a human man, and staying on land forever.”
The Wicked Deep is a fantastic and unsettling tale that the author brilliantly weaves into something tangible and almost natural. It supplies the reader with a magical experience enveloped in paranormal mystery and the end result is genuinely unique and gratifying.
Pairs well with a cup of loose leaf white tea.
*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.