The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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“The knowing of what’s coming, the death that creeps up over the town like fate clawing at the door of every shop and home. I can feel it in the air, in the spray of the sea, in the hollow spaces between raindrops. The sisters are coming.”

Reading books that have been highly recommended to me by multiple people always makes me a little nervous, but I am so happy to say that The Wicked Deep is worth the hype! If you are looking for the perfect Halloween read, look no further: The Wicked Deep is captivatingly written and feels almost magical with its prose. I was spellbound! This book wasn’t what I was expecting (story of my life) but I loved it all the same.

The Town of Sparrow has a sordid past and has done the most American thing in response: turned it into a tourist attraction. Two hundred years ago, three sisters were drowned after being found guilty of witchcraft, and every year for three weeks they possess the bodies of three teenage girls and lure men to a watery end. The possessed girls have no memory of what happened during the Swan Season and no one can tell that the girl is possessed… Who can you trust when the enemy could be anyone?

“And yet you celebrate it each year. You get drunk and swim in the harbor, even when you know what’s coming? Even though you know people are going to die? You’ve just accepted it?”

The juxtaposition of this cyclical and random vengeance wreaking havoc on the town with the town’s eerily jubilant celebrations as if it’s the Fourth of July spoke to me deeply. About how tragedy becomes a spectacle and the near disregard of the town’s inhabitants to protect themselves.

But right now, they aren’t thinking about that. Everyone believes they’re immune. Until they’re not.

It isn’t their problem unless it happens to them. And for a town of 2,400 residents you would think that they would care a bit more for their neighbors. Honestly though, I was so taken by the writing that I didn’t think about how weird it was none of the adults seemed to care until I sat down to write my review.

The narrative covers the three week Swan Season in present time in the first-person perspective of Penny Talbot, a 17 year old that lives on Lumiere Island across the harbor from Sparrow. Apparently her family owns the island and runs a lighthouse. This sounds incredibly cool to me for some reason, and my hermit is showing. On the night of the Swan party she meets Bo Carter, a mysterious outsider that blows into town seemingly by chance and unaware of Swan Season. The town is mistrusting of outsiders; Penny offers to let him stay in an old cabin on the island in exchange for helping run the lighthouse, and over the course of the following weeks they grow closer.

As the bodies begin to pile up, the local teenagers work into a frenzy trying to figure out who the Swan Sisters have inhabited this season (I find it weird that the adults don’t care at all???). In this way the hysteria very much felt like a nod to the Witch Trials, and the way that a lack of evidence only seems to add fuel to the fire of the mob mentality. The worst in people comes out in times of crisis like this, the brain trying to assign blame and find meaning. This book is very much about the darkness of humanity and the tragic aftermath.

While the characters and overall story are so intricately crafted, I do wish that the magic fueling the curse was explained. For a book that I assumed was about witches there really isn’t anything to it, and the book ended without even discussing it at all. I am the kind of reader that likes to understand how things work, and it is important to me as a fantasy reader to have magic systems fleshed out and explained. Unfortunately in this regard I was left wanting more.

Overall, The Wicked Deep is a beautifully written fantasy story that I absolutely adored. Also can we talk about how gorgeous the cover is?! 😭 This is a fast-paced read that will keep you engaged to the very end!

🤝 Buddy read with the wonderful Jamsu from Jamsu Dreams! Be sure to check out her review because she is lovely and I adored reading this book with her!



You can find information about my rating criteria here.


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27 thoughts on “The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

  1. Pingback: Buddy Read: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw | Jamsudreams

  2. I loved doing this buddy read with you. Hopefully one day we’ll have another book we both want to read ❤

    I absolutely love the book cover. It might even be my favorite book cover in my shelf atm.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is why I love reading other’s views on books. I left this book wanting more and very much in the “dislike” camp. Things were not explained well enough for me, which you mention. I hated the ending though as well. It was ridiculousness. I am glad you had a better experience than I did with this book. I was hoping for “Hocus Pocus” type of magic and got “Hocus Nopus” instead for me.


  4. I’m so happy you enjoyed this one! It’s been on my list for ages. I actually think I have a copy somewhere… I also hate it when it feels like people are oddly oblivious to their surroundings. It’s nice that you didn’t notice until later, though. It means you were too wrapped up in the rest of the story!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You definitely should read it if you have a copy laying about, perfect for this time of year! It was really magical and I was so wrapped up I didn’t notice those weird things until I sat down to write the review hahaa. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by, Lindsi!


  5. Wonderful review as always! I’ve had this one on my tbr, and may pick it up some time! I always find it odd too when parents and adults don’t seem to care about situations such as the one you described! Haha

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. I’m going to read it since is soon going to be free on Riveted ❤ I cannot wait and it will be there for Halloween day, which is perfect *.*

    For reasons I'm not even that surprised that adults don't do a thing. Or if they do they would make it worse *looks at herself, an adult actually* But yeah, sometimes I trust more the youngester XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh that is AWESOME! Riveted is such a cool thing, I just wish I were better about reading books on a computer browser. I hope that you enjoy it!!!

      Bahahaha, yea I am an adult and definitely am not to be trusted! Honestly, since this is told from the teenager’s POV it makes sense there isn’t really a focus on the Adult Reaction, but with the fact adults come to town to watch it is disturbing to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s totally disturbing! But it kinda reminded me of our current world, in which I see too many older folks just stand in a place and do nothing .
        Maybe I give the young too much, but I’ve great hopes.

        Also… my age is the awkard period in which you’re an adult but also sometimes still considered too young XD I’m soon not going to be trusted too

        Liked by 1 person

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