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Book Review of "The Wicked Deep"

Reading is one of many passions Victoria has. She is always one of the first people her friends ask when in need of a good book!

"The Wicked Deep" is worth a read.

"The Wicked Deep" is worth a read.

The Legend Behind the Story

Two centuries ago, the Swan sisters were accused of practicing witchcraft. After being found guilty, rocks were tied to their feet and they were drowned for their crimes in the harbor of a little town called Sparrow. These women were not actually witches, however. Rather, the town folk were intimidated by their beauty and their natural ability to seduce the men of Sparrow.

After their wrongful execution, the three sisters were rumored to return for one month every summer to exact revenge on the town folk of Sparrow. They sought their revenge by inhabiting the bodies of local women and then seducing and drowning young men in the ocean, much like they had been drowned in 1822.


What Is "The Wicked Deep" About?

The novel's main character, Penny Talbot, has lived on a little island just off the shores of Sparrow for her entire life. Like everyone else in Sparrow, she is familiar with the tales of the Swan sisters and takes them very seriously. When Penny meets a handsome boy by the name of Bo, she is instantly curious about his presence in Sparrow—especially his timing. It's Swan season in Sparrow, which means any young men entering the town are in immediate danger of being seduced and drowned by the Swan sisters. Bo doesn't know about the Swan season and claims to just be looking for work. He asks Penny for a job taking care of the lighthouse on her island. Penny wants to help Bo, but much like the rest of the townsfolk, she knows he is an outsider and they aren't overly welcome in this small town and turns him down.

The night of the Swan party (a celebration every year in Sparrow to celebrate the upcoming drownings and influx of tourism), Penny runs into a problem. Bo unexpectedly comes to Penny's aid, so she decides to give him a chance and offers him the job of taking care of the lighthouse on her family property. Gradually the two become closer, but as Bo's life becomes endangered, Penny must find a way to keep him save him.


4 Reasons I Enjoyed This Book

  1. Plot: Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself "the author just did that because they couldn't come up with a way to end it?" I honestly have had this reaction more times than I care for. Fortunately, The Wicked Deep is not one of these books. Shea Ernshaw's debut novel is brilliantly plotted and has quite a few twists and turns I was not expecting. I love that this book left me guessing right until the end.
  2. Writing style: A big no-no for me is too much description, not enough dialogue. That's part of why I'm not a fan of Stephen King novels. The Wicked Deep has the perfect dialogue-to-description ratio that makes it an easy and enjoyable read. Reading this book felt like I was watching a movie.
  3. Atmosphere: From the beginning to the end, the ambiance of this story is clear. Sparrow is a small town that's highly skeptical of outsiders. Its inhabitants have celebrated and profited off the deaths of three women and hundreds of boys for the last two centuries and put little to no effort into solving the deaths. The tone is set and we ride that wave of discomfort and eerie atmosphere throughout this story. In my opinion, it couldn't have been better set up.
  4. Multiple perspectives: The primary perspective of this novel is that of Penny Talbot, however we do get small glimpses of the past. These sections follow the Swan Sisters to their inevitable deaths. They aren't very long, so the reader doesn't have time to completely fall into their side plot. However, I feel it does help the reader develop a relationship not only with Penny, but with the sisters as well. You begin to empathize with them and understand why the events of their deaths were so tragic. Plus, by keeping the historical perspectives so short, the reader remains on course with the flow of this novel.

Love is an enchantress—soft devious and wild. It slips up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat."

— The Wicked Deep

One Thing I Didn't Like

YA cheesiness: No book is perfect. There will always be at least one factor that you don't like, and sometimes it can even ruin a story for you. In The Wicked Deep, Earnshaw definitely has moments where originality is lost in her writing. But for a debut novel, it's really not the end of the world or too overdone. The book still did give me moments of lactose intolerance, as most young adult, romantic fiction novels do. With that being said, if you can't take a little cheese with your reading meal, I don't advise any young adult fiction for you—especially romantic ones.


My Final Thoughts

I read this novel as apart of my booktober T.B.R. I felt it had the perfect combination of spookiness, witchcraft, and romance that I enjoy, and I can honestly say my hopes for The Wicked Deep were completely met. It's a book that, for the first half of the story, you think you have it all figured out only to find out you were only half right. At least that's what happened to me. There were perfect cliffhangers that make it hard to put down and characters that are easy to connect and sympathize with. The plot was exquisitely written and easy to follow. I couldn't have asked for a better read and will honestly probably read it again next October.