The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

(Last Updated On: June 19, 2019)

The Wicked Deep is captivatingly written and feels almost magical with its prose. I was spellbound! This book wasn’t what I was expecting (story of my life) but I loved it all the same.

About the Book

Publisher: Simon Pulse  |  Release Date: March 6, 2018  |  Pages: 310
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal  |  Format: Hardcover  |  Source: Purchased

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.

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My Review


Reading books that have been highly recommended to me by multiple people always makes me a little nervous, but I am so happy to say that The Wicked Deep is worth the hype! If you are looking for the perfect Halloween read, look no further: The Wicked Deep is captivatingly written and feels almost magical with its prose. I was spellbound! This book wasn’t what I was expecting (story of my life) but I loved it all the same.

“The knowing of what’s coming, the death that creeps up over the town like fate clawing at the door of every shop and home. I can feel it in the air, in the spray of the sea, in the hollow spaces between raindrops. The sisters are coming.”

The Town of Sparrow has a sordid past and has done the most American thing in response: turned it into a tourist attraction. Two hundred years ago, three sisters were drowned after being found guilty of witchcraft, and every year for three weeks they possess the bodies of three teenage girls and lure men to a watery end. The possessed girls have no memory of what happened during the Swan Season and no one can tell that the girl is possessed… Who can you trust when the enemy could be anyone?

“And yet you celebrate it each year. You get drunk and swim in the harbor, even when you know what’s coming? Even though you know people are going to die? You’ve just accepted it?”

The juxtaposition of this cyclical and random vengeance wreaking havoc on the town with the town’s eerily jubilant celebrations as if it’s the Fourth of July spoke to me deeply. About how tragedy becomes a spectacle and the near disregard of the town’s inhabitants to protect themselves.

“But right now, they aren’t thinking about that. Everyone believes they’re immune. Until they’re not.”

It isn’t their problem unless it happens to them. And for a town of 2,400 residents, you would think that they would care a bit more for their neighbors. Honestly, though, I was so taken by the writing that I didn’t think about how weird it was none of the adults seemed to care until I sat down to write my review.

The narrative covers the three week Swan Season in the present time in the first-person perspective of Penny Talbot, a 17-year-old that lives on Lumiere Island across the harbor from Sparrow. Apparently her family owns the island and runs a lighthouse. This sounds incredibly cool to me for some reason, and my hermit is showing. On the night of the Swan party, she meets Bo Carter, a mysterious outsider that blows into town seemingly by chance and unaware of Swan Season. The town is mistrusting of outsiders; Penny offers to let him stay in an old cabin on the island in exchange for helping run the lighthouse, and over the course of the following weeks they grow closer.

As the bodies begin to pile up, the local teenagers work into a frenzy trying to figure out who the Swan Sisters have inhabited this season (I find it weird that the adults don’t care at all???). In this way, the hysteria very much felt like a nod to the Witch Trials, and the way that a lack of evidence only seems to add fuel to the fire of the mob mentality. The worst in people comes out in times of crisis like this, the brain trying to assign blame and find meaning. This book is very much about the darkness of humanity and the tragic aftermath.

While the characters and overall story are so intricately crafted, I do wish that the magic fueling the curse was explained. For a book that I assumed was about witches there really isn’t anything to it, and the book ended without even discussing it at all. I am the kind of reader that likes to understand how things work, and it is important to me as a fantasy reader to have magic systems fleshed out and explained. Unfortunately, in this regard I was left wanting more.

Overall, The Wicked Deep is a beautifully written fantasy story that I absolutely adored. Also, can we talk about how gorgeous the cover is?! 😭 This is a fast-paced read that will keep you engaged to the very end!

🤝 Buddy read with the wonderful Jamsu from Jamsu Dreams! Be sure to check out her review because she is lovely and I adored reading this book with her!

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!



  1. Buddy Read: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw | Jamsudreams

    October 24, 2018 at 9:03 AM

    […] The Wicked Deep has been in my TBR forever but I was too afraid to try it until I won it in a giveaway! I was going to read it when I got it in this summer but then I was like hey this would be perfect October read. Me and Kaleena @ Reader Voracious decided to read it for blogoween. You can read her review of this book here. […]

  2. jamsu

    October 24, 2018 at 9:08 AM

    I loved doing this buddy read with you. Hopefully one day we’ll have another book we both want to read <3

    I absolutely love the book cover. It might even be my favorite book cover in my shelf atm.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 25, 2018 at 9:26 AM

      I loved reading this book with you too, thanks for sharing the experience with me! ❤
      And I agree, I love this cover so freaking much

  3. Theresa

    October 24, 2018 at 9:10 AM

    Great review! I don’t really read the same kinds of books, but I always enjoy your reviews!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 25, 2018 at 9:26 AM

      Aww thanks so much, Theresa! That means a lot because I know our reading tastes are pretty different typically.

  4. pinotandpages247

    October 24, 2018 at 9:21 AM

    I’m hoping to finish this today! 😘

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 25, 2018 at 9:27 AM

      YAAAS I can’t wait to hear what you thought!

      1. pinotandpages247

        October 25, 2018 at 9:43 AM

        I’m loving it so far

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          October 26, 2018 at 7:49 AM

          YAYYYY that’s good to hear!
          Also I am going to read more VENGEFUL today, here’s hoping the stars are aligned!

  5. Deanna Reads Books

    October 24, 2018 at 9:37 AM

    I tried this in audio but the narrator and production was god awful. I bought the hardback but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Glad you liked it.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 25, 2018 at 9:28 AM

      Oh man, the narrator really can ruin an audiobook. I hope reading the hardback is better for you!

  6. Cassie Winters

    October 24, 2018 at 10:46 AM

    This is why I love reading other’s views on books. I left this book wanting more and very much in the “dislike” camp. Things were not explained well enough for me, which you mention. I hated the ending though as well. It was ridiculousness. I am glad you had a better experience than I did with this book. I was hoping for “Hocus Pocus” type of magic and got “Hocus Nopus” instead for me.

  7. Lindsi

    October 24, 2018 at 1:11 PM

    I’m so happy you enjoyed this one! It’s been on my list for ages. I actually think I have a copy somewhere… I also hate it when it feels like people are oddly oblivious to their surroundings. It’s nice that you didn’t notice until later, though. It means you were too wrapped up in the rest of the story!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 26, 2018 at 7:32 AM

      You definitely should read it if you have a copy laying about, perfect for this time of year! It was really magical and I was so wrapped up I didn’t notice those weird things until I sat down to write the review hahaa. Happy reading and thanks for stopping by, Lindsi!

  8. Rae

    October 24, 2018 at 2:09 PM

    I really enjoyed this one. It was a dark read. Perfect for October! 😊

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 26, 2018 at 7:36 AM

      Glad you enjoyed this one too!!!

  9. betweenfoldedpages

    October 24, 2018 at 4:25 PM

    I also wish thee was a little more magic, but the writing was so good that it’s easy to overlook. Great review! 💜

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 26, 2018 at 7:44 AM

      Thank you so much~! Glad that you enjoyed the book as well and had the same thoughts about the magic!

  10. Kelly Brigid

    October 24, 2018 at 11:47 PM

    Wonderful review as always! I’ve had this one on my tbr, and may pick it up some time! I always find it odd too when parents and adults don’t seem to care about situations such as the one you described! Haha

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 26, 2018 at 7:45 AM

      Thank you so much, Kelly! I guess since the story is told from the teenager’s POV it makes sense, but it is really jarring since the adults + tourists all make a spectacle of it? Humans are messed up, man. Haha

  11. The Sacrifice – Reader Voracious Blog

    October 25, 2018 at 8:47 AM

    […] 🌹 Rose from The Wicked Deep […]

  12. Camilla @ Reader in the Attic

    October 26, 2018 at 6:41 AM

    I’m going to read it since is soon going to be free on Riveted <3 I cannot wait and it will be there for Halloween day, which is perfect *.*

    For reasons I'm not even that surprised that adults don't do a thing. Or if they do they would make it worse *looks at herself, an adult actually* But yeah, sometimes I trust more the youngester XD

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      October 26, 2018 at 8:19 AM

      Oooh that is AWESOME! Riveted is such a cool thing, I just wish I were better about reading books on a computer browser. I hope that you enjoy it!!!

      Bahahaha, yea I am an adult and definitely am not to be trusted! Honestly, since this is told from the teenager’s POV it makes sense there isn’t really a focus on the Adult Reaction, but with the fact adults come to town to watch it is disturbing to me.

      1. Camilla @ Reader in the Attic

        October 26, 2018 at 9:36 AM

        It’s totally disturbing! But it kinda reminded me of our current world, in which I see too many older folks just stand in a place and do nothing .
        Maybe I give the young too much, but I’ve great hopes.

        Also… my age is the awkard period in which you’re an adult but also sometimes still considered too young XD I’m soon not going to be trusted too

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          October 27, 2018 at 7:16 PM

          YES ABSOLUTELY, which I think is a big reason I liked this book so much. I like books that shine a light on the darkness of our society. And don’t worry… I still have a lot of hope!

  13. October in Review – Reader Voracious Blog

    November 1, 2018 at 9:33 AM

    […] Wicked Deep, The by Shea Ernshaw: This book is a beautiful standalone fantasy novel that is nothing short of magical. I was captivated from the first page to the last, the writing feels almost magical with its prose. Buddy read with Jamsu! [Full Review] […]

  14. Books Worth Looking For – Entertainment for the Young and Young-at-heart

    November 11, 2018 at 6:47 PM

    […] of witches, the Reader Voracious Blog takes look at The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw.  This story of three girls who were executed for practicing witchcraft, but who […]

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