The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw – Review

Title: The Wicked Deep

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Genre: Young Adult

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Summary: 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.


I haven’t read a book with a witchy, supernatural theme in a long time so I wasn’t sure about how I would get on with The Wicked Deep which I received in my first fantastic book subscription book from BookBoxClub. However, I ended up really loving this book. It was mystical, atmospheric and original. It has it’s roots in age old mythical creatures like Sirens and in historical ideas of witchcraft but puts a different spin on things. The initial premise of this book is so intriguing and promises a lot and it very much delivers in my opinion.

The Wicked Deep is written in a really lovely style. Ernshaw weaves her tale in an elegant and melancholic way. There is a real undercurrent of sadness and yearning running through the story. The whole book revolves around the power of love, be it created by nefarious supernatural means or not and how it can lead people to do extreme and dangerous things. This theme gives the book a darkness that is enhanced by the author’s prose.

“I once read a poem about love being fragile, as thin as glass and easily broken. But that is not the kind of love that survives in a place like this. It must be hardy and enduring. It must have grit.”

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The world of the town of Sparrow is full of fascinating characters but the three Swan sisters are probably the book’s strongest force. Their personalities overshadow the entire town and story. They are both villains and victims which makes it difficult to know who to root for in the end which is something I always appreciate.

I do wish the book had been even longer, it is a relatively short novel and I would have loved to spend more time in Sparrow. I also felt that the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a little more as there were a few of them that I was intrigued by that I would have liked exploring more of. Overall, however, The Wicked Deep is a great young adult novel with a few clever twists and a satisfying ending. I will be eager to read more from this talented author.


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