The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw, published by Simon and Schuster on 8th March 2018
Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…
Two centuries ago, in the small, isolated town, 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 from the depths, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them down to their watery deaths.
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 or the fact that his arrival will change everything...
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.
'The Wicked Deep' is a beautifully written tale of love and sisterhood. The writing is gloriously vivid and so evocative that I sensed I could almost smell the salty tang of the Sparrow sea air. Every word sounds like it's been carefully selected and used to create a lyrical and enchanting feel to the novel. Just like the tourists are drawn to the seaside town of Sparrow each summer, I was equally drawn into the life of local girl Penny and the story of three sisters and their quest for revenge.
I found this title impossible to put down. I was immersed completely in the characters and in discovering all of the secrets they were hiding. I couldn't wait for the release of this title and then I ended up devouring the whole book in one evening! I would have liked to have stretched my enjoyment out for longer but it was too good to go to bed before I'd finished.
Stories about witches have been done before and I've read a lot of them but author Shea Ernshaw really nailed her presentation of the Swan sisters and their summer of revenge; dragging boys to their deaths in the watery depths of the small town. I was intrigued by the secrets and revelations of their pasts and as I was reading, I couldn't wait to discover more about them and their thirst for death.
The narrator, Penny Talbot, lives with her mother on a small island across the waters from Sparrow and was a character that I liked straight away. She seems so capable and independent, although she is still struggling to cope with the disappearance of her father and her mother's withdrawal from the world. She develops a connection with new boy in town, Bo Carter, although they are both less than honest with each other in the beginning. There's a big twist which I'm not even going to hint at regarding the characters but it worked brilliantly and was fiendishly clever.
'The Wicked Deep' is a gorgeously written, glorious tale of life and death, secrets and lies, set amidst a backdrop of suspicion and revenge which percolates away in the small town. A five star read, I fell head over heels for this book which is a stunning debut by Shea Ernshaw. She is definitely an author that I will be watching in the future.