The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
From Goodreads: 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.
Okay, I really have to just say wow to this book. When I realized it would be included in my March Book Box Club box, I thought I’d do a quick Goodreads check to see what it was about, and I fell in love with the synopsis. This book sounded right up my street.
And then I started reading it, and I was even more convinced that the box had gotten it spot on for me this month. The book is gorgeous in its detail, with lines that you just can’t help but fall in love with. Like this one: ‘She was like a galaxy, speckled with stars.’ Or this one: ‘She enchanted the moon, wishing for things she craved.’ The book did a wonderful job of sending delicious shivers up my spine with every new description, and I swear there were moments when I could practically taste the sea-salt and hear the waves. What a great knack for story-telling. The Wicked Deep is a pretty dark book, probably not the kind of thing you read just before going to sleep, but it is also delightful in its darkness.
There were some excellent plot twists in there. I admit, I saw a few of them coming, but some were still a really big surprise too. It was one of those books that I expected to enjoy, and then fell in love with. I had to put it down at one point, since it got to 3am, and I still had 50 pages to go, but I think it stands as a good testimony that I sat and read around 250 pages without putting it down. That’s some serious story-pull. Or maybe it was just the sirens in the novel, luring me to read just one more chapter…
Perhaps the only thing that felt a bit off with the novel was the beginning few chapters. For me, the information about the town’s history came across great when Ernshaw opened with the three sisters sections, but then didn’t work so well when Penny took over. She seemed an okay character, but in all honesty, it was a little too much telling for my taste, and that let the book down a little. There were quite a few info-dumps at the start of the book to catch readers up on the town’s history, but thankfully these melted away later on in the book and then I was clinging on for dear life through the rest of the plot, desperate to find out who had been claimed by a sister, and who would be accused. It was a powerful plot point that worked well, and I can’t wait to read more of this author’s work.
A 9/10 for me for The Wicked Deep. I’m so so pleased this was included in my Under the Sea Book Box Club box, and I’m looking forward to chatting with the author. It’s really no surprise, given the strength of this book, that it’s just been confirmed as a Netflix series in the making. If you want to buy a copy online before all the hype, you can do so on the UK Waterstones site here, Amazon UK here, or Book Depository here.
P.S. Isn’t that cover just so pretty? The foil on it made me squeal 😀