Book Review – The Wicked Deep By Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was so confused about my feelings for this book after I finished reading it. A part of me felt disappointed, but another part of me couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I gave myself a few days to let everything sink in, and now I can say that I did enjoy this book, besides a few things that bothered me.

The reason why I felt disappointed was because it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. The synopsis said that this book was good for fans of Hocus Pocus…but I think that’s some crappy marketing. I went into this book expecting all sorts of witchy stuff and double double toil and trouble, but that’s not the case. No…this book is something else; this book is dark and ghostly, and the atmosphere is hauntingly beautiful. The author does a really good job of describing the setting, and so you feel like you’re in this constant cloud of grey, but a beautiful grey…if that makes sense.

The Wicked Deep is set in the town of Sparrows, Oregon; a town that has been cursed for over 200 years by the Swan sisters who were wrongfully convicted of being witches and then tossed out into the harbor with stones tied to their ankles. Every year since then, on June 1st, people can hear the sisters beautiful singing from the harbor, calling out to young girls in the town of Sparrow to enter the water so that the sisters can inhabit the bodies and seek revenge by luring young men into the water to drown to death. These events begin on June 1st and end three weeks later on the summer solstice.

In the present day, Swan Season – as the locals call it – has become a wildly popular tourist destination. Tourists flock to hear the singing sisters while trying to figure out who has been inhabited by the sisters, and then waiting to hear the dreadful ringing of a bell that locals use each time a body is found in the harbor. The crazy thing is that in all the years this phenomenon has happened, not once have the towns people seen which local girls have been inhabited by the sisters…until this year. It’s said that each sister can inhabit a girls body without the actual girl knowing, and can take on the girls personality. So it can be very hard to determine who is possessed – in a sense.

The two main characters of this book are Penny and Bo. Penny’s a local, born and raised in Sparrow on Lumiere island, and Bo is a non-local who’s looking for work on Lumiere island. Soon, Penny finds herself at the Swan Sisters party bash, a party for local high school students who get drunk while boys dare girls to go into the water. It is here that Penny tells Bo about the Swan sisters and the 200 year old curse that claims the lives of young men. And then the singing starts and doesn’t stop until each sister has possessed girl…and so begins Swan season. While Penny and Bo continue to dance around each other for the next 3 weeks, it’s obvious that both of them are carrying secrets. Penny tries to keep Bo safe, while Bo tries to find a logical explanation to what’s really happening to the boy’s in the harbor, even though Penny tells him that the Swan sisters are real, he will not accept that the town is really cursed.
We also get glimpses of who the sisters were, where they came from, and how they were each born one year apart on June 1.

The story slowly unravels one secret after another: the secret of Bo’s mysterious appearance in Sparrows, the death of Penny’s father three years ago, the reason why the Swan sisters take lives, and a secret that Penny fears to speak, fears because she doesn’t want to lose Bo.

Imma be honest: many of these secrets were quite obvious to me before they were reveled, and that kind of ruined the fun of figuring it all out. But I still enjoyed the book, the prose, and the relationship between Penny and Bo…until 3/4 of the way into the book. I definitely wanted a more witchy atmosphere, but there is a kind of magical element throughout the book, like a local shop that makes deserts to help you forget about horrible events in ones life, or the fact that Penny knows how to read tea leaves and has seen the same future for herself in every cup of tea leaves, a future that reads:

“A boy blowing in from across the sea, shipwrecked on the island. His heart beating wildly in his chest, his skin made of sand and wind. And my heart unable to resist. It’s the same future I’ve seen in every cup of tea since I was five, when my mom first taught me to decipher leaves.”

And while we learn that the Swan sisters were not actual witches, they were beautiful, alluring outspoken and independent women of their time, and unfortunately during the 1800’s, this could be the signs of a woman practicing witchcraft.

I don’t like to give spoilers in my reviews, but I feel like there are a few things I should mention.


Bo believes he has fallen in love with Penny…but it’s not actually Penny, it’s Hazel…and so after the curse is lifted, Bo continues to be with Penny…It’s just weird. I think a logical human being would be traumatized by this and move on, but nope…Bo stays with Penny, a girl who has unknowingly had sex with Bo…and that in itself is fucked up because Penny’s body has been used for someone elses wants. It’s a violation of her body without her consent, and so I just found this…weird. Also, Bo seems to think murdering is okay…um, no!


I give this book three stars because while the book was interesting and beautiful in an odd way, and I enjoyed it for the most part, there are some things that just really bothered me about the book that I discuss in my spoiler. One character seems to think that murder is okay and another characters body has been violated in a way that just freaks me out. I can’t say more unless you want to be spoiled, so I’ll leave it at that.


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I'm just another American who married a Frenchie and now lives in France. I read books like it's the air I need to breathe. I'm a bit picky, though, as I tend to only read Young Adult fiction books. I also knit, crochet, and I try my best (which isn't very good) to paint with watercolors...and I speak Franglish, half English and half French because I suck at French, ha! And let's not forget that I have two fur-kitties named Ruby and Lumi!

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