The Wicked Deep: With Beauty Comes Pain

A cursed seaside town. Three sisters accused of witchcraft and drowned in the harbor. A haunting song each summer. Possessed girls. Dead boys.



Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: March 6th, 2018

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary (Courtesy of 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.


“Sometimes I think this island is a magnet for bad things, the center of it all. Like a black hole pulling us toward a fate we can’t prevent. And other times I think this island is the only thing keeping me sane, the only familiar thing I have left.” 

(Pg. 193)

Not going to lie, I tend to buy books based on their cover. I feel like in recent years, the YA genre has stepped up their game with covers and just about every book I read anymore has a stunning cover. But The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen. Take just one look at this book and you’ll get what it’s about. AND on the special editions, there are foil stars and a moon on the hardcover. I was obsessed with this book before I even read it.

I have SO. MANY. FEELINGS. about this book, and I’m going to control myself so that this post isn’t crazy long.

Let’s start with my absolute favorite part of the book: the atmosphere. It took about one page before I had packed my bags and planned to move to Sparrow. Ernshaw’s writing when it comes to place is absolutely stunning. Her sentences are very lyrical and haunting and there was a lot of water imagery that just really sticks with you.

Our main character, Penny, is very much attached to the place. She lives on an island with a lighthouse and abandoned orchard that is very much its own character. Penny is an extension of not only the island, but of Sparrow itself, and it’s very interesting to see the way the plot unfolded from her eyes. I’m not going into details because I don’t want to spoil anything.

Another thing that I really loved about this book was the mother-daughter relationship. Teenage years are an odd time; you don’t really know how you fit into your body or the roles that society places you in, and often times, family relationships suffer from this. I think that the complex relationship between Penny and her mother was beautifully done. Her mom is consumed by her grief and has drifted into solitude on the island. Penny’s best friend’s mother runs a bakery, Alba’s Forgetful Cakes, and Penny is often sent home with these cakes in hopes of it helping her mom.

Speaking of cakes, I wish there was a recipe book that went along with it. Alba’s Forgetful Cakes sound absolutely delightful, and the entire time I was reading it, all I could think about were the magical food in Harry Potter. This book just really brought out all of the magic in a contemporary setting.

And speaking of magic, obviously I can’t write a review of this book without mentioning the witches! And the magic! Like, a Swan song that lures girls into the water so that the three sisters who were drowned in the harbor can take over their bodies and exact revenge? SIGN. ME. UP. I’m moving to Sparrow, not so that I can become possessed, but so that I can watch all of this unfold.

On this note, I have to mention why I gave it four stars. One of the few let-downs of this book was that I expected/wanted it to be a bit more stabby. And, yeah, yeah, I know the boys are being drowned, but like, I wanted more magic, more deaths, more action I guess? The book just took a sudden turn into this very intense love story that I wasn’t exactly expecting. It slowed down a lot of the pace and I found myself anxious for the next drowning, the next clue.

Even still, I thought this book was awesome. And if you like creepy small towns, lots of fog, witches, and stories about love, then you’ll enjoy this one, too.

I can’t wait for Ernshaw’s next book, WINTERWOOD. Sounds like we won’t get this one until the fall of 2019, but even still, I’m so pumped.

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