“It starts as a low croon that rolls in with the tide, a sound so faint it might just be the wind blowing through the clapboard shutters, through the portholes of docked fishing boats, and into narrow cracks along sagging doorways. But after the first night, the harmony of voices become undeniable. An enchanting hymn sailing over the water’s surface, cool and soft and alluring. The Swan sisters have awakened.”
Friends, if you’re looking for something atmospheric, spooky, and completely captivating, that is so very beautifully written, please pick The Wicked Deep up.
I’ll be honest with you all, I felt like this book was calling to me. I’d always see it on Edelweiss, but I had too many ARCS, so I knew I couldn’t allow myself to request it, but it always caught my eye. Then, upon release, everyone was buying it and I thought it was the most beautiful, holographic cover I’ve ever seen, but I still resisted. Then, I couldn’t stop seeing on all my social media feeds that Netflix bought the rights to it and is going to adapt it. Finally, my friend Julie posted she was going to be hosting a buddy read for it, and I knew that I could no longer continue to be haunted by this book. And I’m forever thankful I picked it up.
The Wicked Deep is a story about a small town off the coast of Oregon, called Sparrow, that is the pinnacle of a small, sleepy town, except for in June when tourists come from all around in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Swan sisters who were drowned to death for witchcraft over two hundred years ago. From June 1st until Just 21st (summer solace) no one is safe. And each and every summer, accusations get thrown at more and more girls, from boys who claim them to be the sisters who are responsible for the drownings.
“Magic is not always formed from words, from cauldrons brewing spices or black cats strolling down dark alleys. Some curses are manifested from desire or injustice.”
Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death two centuries ago for witchcraft, but their only crimes are from seducing the men in the town of Sparrow. But every summer the sisters rise from their watery graves, each inhabiting a body of a local girl, while making sure they take at least three boy’s lives while they walk among the town unbeknownst to anyone which local girls are being possessed.
Our main character, Penny, lives on a small island off of the mainland. She keeps to herself despite the small population to begin with, and only truly has one friend named Rose. Rose begs Penny to attend a party on the beach with the rest of the kids from their school, so they can annually welcome the Swan sisters. Penny lives with her mother, who hasn’t been the same since her husband disappeared three years ago. Penny reluctantly goes, meets a mysterious boy who is looking for work, and the sisters start to sing their song.
I really loved reading this. I was instantly thrown into the mystery and guessing game of who the sisters had possessed. I was instantly in love with the town and the mom and pop businesses. I was instantly impressed with the lyrical prose and the intelligently crafted story. I went into this expecting some Hocus Pocus vibes, but I came out enjoying this more than I ever expected.
“Loving someone is dangerous. It gives you something to lose.”
I saw a couple reviews calling this story instalove, but I was honestly swooning so hard for the romance in this book. That first kiss? One of the best first kisses I’ve ever read. I loved the romance(s) in this so much, and I will read any and everything by this author based on how well she wrote those scenes alone.
“Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan slip back into human form, disguised as local girls who emerged from the harbor, but not as themselves.”
My only real complaint comes from the nature of the story. This is ultimately a story about girls being possessed against their will, therefore, the sisters do questionable things with their host’s body without their consent. I can’t say too much, because I want this to be a spoiler free review, but just use caution going into this knowing that. And it’s nothing violent or physically hurtful, but I would argue that there is some grey area consent in this book.
Content and Trigger Warnings: loss of a loved one, abandonment, underage drinking, drunk driving (boats), murder, death, downing, and abduction.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. Shea Ernshaw was able to evoke so many emotions from me. I cried so many tears during this book. I felt so blindsided and I honestly couldn’t control my weeping at a few parts. This story is so beautiful, and it truly is crafted so very well. To say I’m impressed is an understatement, and I can’t wait to see what this author does next, because their debut was nothing short of phenomenal.