The Wicked Deep: Review


I've been researching the paranormal quite a bit lately, especially folk tales and legends around witchcraft. Because of this recent interest, the premise of The Wicked Deep, by Shea Ernshaw sounded incredibly promising. I have always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials and societal panic that led to the senseless persecution of women. 

Note: I received an advanced reader's copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Goodreads Summary

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.


Sparrow is a small town cursed by three sisters seeking revenge. Every summer, the sisters return to claim the bodies of three girls. In these new bodies, the sisters seduce young men and drown in the harbor, collecting their souls in revenge for the injustices they faced centuries ago.

There is a lot to unpack here. The Wicked Deep is told in the present tense from Penny's point of view as she watches the events of this summer's Swan Season take place. The prose keeps the story moving rather quickly and I never found myself getting bored. While the book has elements of the paranormal genre, it's also a bit of a mystery/thriller, since no one truly knows who is murdering these young men and which girls are the Swan sisters this summer. Well, one person knows, but that's a plot twist for another day. *wink*

Interspersed between the present are scenes from the past. We read about the Swan sisters' arrival to Sparrow and what their lives were like. Were they truly witches, or were they simply alluring women that men could not resist? These scenes from the past gives the readers clues to the present and asks us to figure out the motivations behind the killings. There is a social commentary here about women's sexuality and shame, and that was a thrill to unpack as I was reading what seemed to be just another Young Adult book. There's a nuance to the conflict of this book that makes it multi-dimensional and more complicated that it seems at first.

The Wicked Deep contains some amazing plot twists that will cause readers to reread the book again and again. It is like a nicely-wrapped present, with a compelling story from start to finish. As a standalone novel, I must say that I was also very satisfied by the ending, which is difficult for a book of only 320 pages. 

I rate The Wicked Deep 4/5 stars!

If you are a fan of Paranormal Young Adult or Urban Fantasy, I'd recommend picking up The Wicked Deep. It releases on March 6th, 2018 and you can pre-order it now!

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