The Wicked Deep

Featured
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
1172   0
Write Review
The Wicked Deep
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
13+
Release Date
March 06, 2018
ISBN
1481497340
Buy This Book
      

Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them. 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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0  (1)
Characters 
 
5.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

So Easily Conjured

The promise of a novel filled with the essence of both Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus is fulfilled by reading Shea Ernshaw's debut novel, The Wicked Deep. Within these pages is a story filled with regret, revenge, lies, and most of all, love. And every bit of this summertime story is just as wicked and deep as the title assures.

From the beginning, the haunting lyricism with which Ernshaw conjures her story is enough to draw readers in, and what's more, drown them entirely in beautiful language. The style blends a contemporary narrative with historical elements given through the titled chapters spread throughout the entirety of the novel. Though the narration of these titled chapters does not follow the linear action of the novel, they are just as captivating as the world seen through Penny Talbot's eyes. Penny believes deep in her bones that the three Swan sisters who were drowned in the harbor of Sparrow, Oregon 200 years ago, do indeed return each summer to drown as many teenage boys as they can. It becomes most clear that "magic was not always so linear. It was born from odium. From love. From revenge." And what begins as a story of revenge soon becomes one filled with love.

Throughout the story, tensions remain high, stakes fraught with the impending deaths of innocent boys. There is a ticking clock to keep readers swept up in the urgency of the story; the Swan season wanes toward the summer solstice, which marks the day the sisters were drowned after being accused of witchcraft so many centuries ago. Like the descendants of Salem, Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan were not witches. Yet, they're resurrected every summer, taking over the bodies of young girls in town before slipping from the skins back to the ocean below. It's a rather dire set of circumstances in a town that knows entirely too much of their tragic fates, best explained within the narrative:

"Murder. That's precisely what it is. Calling it a curse does not unmake the truth of what happens here each year...It's as predictable as the tide and the moon. It ebbs and flows. Death comes and goes."

Held within those few lines is the essence of the story, that constant sway between life and death, killer and victim. And the villains of the story, those Swan sisters with the ability to lure boys to their deaths, are proven to be just as flawed and complicated as any good antagonist should be. What was most unexpected, however, was how their villainy washed away as their tragic fates were shared, making it hard not to accept their revenge. Best explained by Penny, "Guilt slithers through me, a thousand regrets, and I wish for things I can't have: a way to undo all the deaths, to save the people who've been lost."

The other characters within this novel are no less authentic. Everyone from Penny's grief-stricken mother to Bo, the new boy in town who hides something just as dark as the town; they all seem to hope for something better. As readers, we learn that "the truth slips between the edges of the lies." These people, like Penny, are broken. She misses her father. Her mother has been driven into darkness most maddening by the disappearance of her husband three years before, and Bo found his way to Sparrow filled with his own heartbreaks. At their core, they are all searching the shores for something. Like Bo explains:

"They're always reasons to stay. You just need to find one reason to leave."

Shea Ernshaw's strengths within this debut do not merely lie at the bottom of an ocean filled with exquisite language, intricate history, and poignant characters, but rather imbue power into the story with elements of magical realism. The notions of curses and revenge, of momentary resurrection and ghosts might be hard to comprehend amidst the contemporary small town setting. But this is the farthest thing from a summer beach read because of the elements of magical realism woven throughout the narrative in a manner that seems so easily conjured. These details act as a juxtaposition to the haunting reality of death. From the forgetful cakes Penny's best friend's mother bakes, "intended to make you forget the worst thing that's ever happened to you--to wipe away bad memories," to the way Penny and her mother are able to divine the future by reading tea leaves; there is a hint of magic in everything. This acts as a way for the reader to better comprehend the strange events of Sparrow, Oregon, and thus, too, the characters to accept that something wicked most certainly comes from the sea.

Sparrow is a mysterious place, while Penny's home at Lumiere island acts as a protection against everything happening around her. The lighthouse is able to shine light onto the murky truths beneath the waves, and as such, the island becomes its own kind of character within the novel. Just as Penny and Bo gravitate toward the orchards and cottages, the reader, too, will feel bound to the island and the veil of safety it offers against the brutality of the risen sisters.

Reading the line, "Some places are bound in by magic. Ensnared by it," this feels like truth carefully crafted to encompass the marks we leave, even after we're gone. So too, does this truth: "Ghosts remain. But sometimes, the past is the only thing keeping a place alive...But it persists, because it must. Penance is a long, unforgiving thing. It endures, for without it, the past is forgotten." Throughout this book, there were many more lines and paragraphs, which took my breath as I drowned within them, ensnared by Ernshaw's skill to take the reader deep into her characters' lives. Lines resonate long after being read. None so much as:

"Perhaps we all have some oddity, some strangeness we keep hidden along our edges, things we see the we can't explain, things we wish for, things we run from."

In the end, Shea Ernshaw's debut, The Wicked Deep, will leave readers under its eerie spell. Though this book is a standalone with a satisfying conclusion, it is clear that "endings are never so simple." And navigating this haunting tale to the last page will leave readers looking forward to whatever Ernshaw conjures next!

Was this review helpful to you? 

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

This Cruel Design
The nightmare of the outbreak is finally...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Big Red School (Clifford)
Clifford misses his best friend Emily Elizabeth every day when...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Don't Date Rosa Santos
Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that's what...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
I Got Next
It’s game day! In this action-packed picture book from Daria...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Friend for Bently
Like all pigs, Bently loves to play in the mud,...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Great Pumpkin Contest
Mimi and Clara are neighbors. Both cats want to win...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Save Your Friends!
This laugh-out-loud adventure encourages family sharing and is a perfect...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Dibs!
Teaching your little brother his first word —dibs —is funny....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Where Are You From?
This resonant picture book tells the story of one girl...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Out of Place
When twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein becomes the target of a school-wide...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Salvation Day
A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
The Startup Squad (The Startup Squad, #1)
Girls mean business in a brand-new middle grade series about...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Possibility of Whales
Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher has to move, again. ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Peppa in Space (Peppa Pig)
Get ready for a Peppa Pig story that's out of...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Stars We Steal
Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo”...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Pete the Cat and the Itsy Bitsy Spirder
Pete the Cat’s cool adaptation of the classic children’s song...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Big Red School (Clifford)
 
5.0
"CLIFFORD: BIG RED SCHOOL follows Emily Elizabeth and Clifford as they create a special school just for Clifford. Clifford loves..."
I Got Next
 
4.0
"I GOT NEXT is a picture book about self-confidence. A boy encourages himself to challenge the other kids who are..."
A Friend for Bently
 
4.0
"A FRIEND FOR BENTLY is a heart-warming story of an unlikely friendship. Bently is the only pig on the farm..."
The Great Pumpkin Contest
 
5.0
"THE GREAT PUMPKIN CONTEST is a sweet and fun read about friendship. Mimi and her neighbor Clara are each entering..."
Save Your Friends!
 
3.5
"SAVE YOUR FRIENDS! is a simple, interactive story told in speech bubbles. The shark is about to eat your friends,..."
Dibs!
 
5.0
"DIBS! is a story about brotherhood. Julian constantly calls dibs on toys and snacks from his younger brother Clancy. Clancy..."
Where Are You From?
 
5.0
"WHERE ARE YOU FROM? is a stunning celebration of heritage/ancestry as well as an acknowledgment of the unnecessary question. A..."
Out of Place
 
5.0
"OUT OF PLACE is an absolutely gorgeous story about bullying and feeling alone. Cove lives with her mother on Martha’s..."
The Startup Squad (The Startup Squad, #1)
 
3.0
"THE STARTUP SQUAD follows primarily Theresa (Resa) as she and a group of three other girls compete in a contest..."
A Possibility of Whales
 
4.0
"THE POSSIBILITY OF WHALES is a middle grade contemporary story that deals with a lot. Natalia Rose (Nat) is almost..."
Peppa in Space (Peppa Pig)
 
5.0
"PEPPA IN SPACE is a fun picture book, featuring Peppa Pig and her family as they learn about space and..."
Pete the Cat and the Itsy Bitsy Spirder
 
3.5
"We are all familiar with the Itsy Bitsy Spider, who climbs up the water spout before being rained out- but..."
Even Monsters Go To School
 
5.0
"This book is so completely adorable it's hard to figure out where to begin. The story is about..."
Can Cat and Bird Be Friends
 
3.5
"This was an odd one. Cat and bird are trying to determine if they can be friends or..."
Pig the Stinker
 
4.5
"PIG THE STINKER follows Pig the Pug on a new adventure- bath time! Pig does not like to bathe, and..."
Little Rabbit Lost
 
4.5
"LITTLE RABBIT LOST follows Little Rabbit as he celebrates his birthday with his family. Little Rabbit wakes up feeling grown..."
Cece Loves Science and Adventure
 
5.0
"Books about girls who love science are always winners! Cece and her friends are trying to win their..."
Hannah Sparkles: Hooray For the First Day of School
 
5.0
"This book is absolutely adorable. Hannah is starting first grade and excited about making friends. Only, every time..."
Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends
 
3.5
"Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends is a cute children's book that kids will like simply for the fact that..."
Trace
 
3.0
"TRACE is a book about healing. Trace lives with his Auntie Lea after his parents died in a car accident..."