“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.”
Two hundred years ago, the small town of Sparrow drowned three sisters for witchcraft. As they tied the stones to their feet, they sealed the fate of generations to come. For now, every summer, the sisters return. Stealing the bodies of three young girls, they lure boys into the harbor to keep them forever.
Penny Talbot has accepted the curse and the fate of the town. She no longer believes it can be broken and can only hope to save the people she cares about. Until a boy comes to town on the eve of the sisters return. He doesn’t believe in curses and is determined to uncover the truth of what happens every summer.
As the curse takes over and a boy is found drowned, Penny and Bo will turn to each other. But while they want to trust each other, they both have secrets they are hiding. When one of the sisters turns her focus on Bo, Penny will be forced to make a choice. Save Bo, or save herself.
“Sometimes I think this island is a magnet for bad things, the center of it all. Like a black hole pulling us toward a fate we can’t prevent.”
I’m not going to lie. I bought this book solely for the cover. The outer cover is stunning, but when I saw the naked foil embellishments beneath, AND that those details would only be available on first run, first edition hardback, I hit the buy now, and have had zero regrets.
This is a case where you should absolutely judge a book by its cover. The book looks magical and as soon as you begin reading, it will continue to enchant you page after page. The writing is gorgeous, pulling you into an ethereal atmosphere that is lyrical and hypnotizing.
“Perhaps we all have some oddity, some strangeness we keep hidden along our edges, things we see that we can’t explain, things we wish for, things we run from.”
The Wicked Deep is a tragic, haunting story. One of the plot twists may seem easily guessed, but I don’t think it was meant to be subtle. Because while the reader is focused on that one detail, Ernshaw is busy weaving a few surprises into the story. These twists are heartbreaking and since we aren’t trying to figure them out, the unexpected delivery hits even harder.
This is a book that is bittersweet and melancholy. It has both a tragic and a happy ending. Such is the way of life, really, and I love how tender and raw the ending ends up being. Ernshaw gives us the complicated reality that magic and a cursed town would have. It brings out both the good and the bad in everyone. No one is entirely one or the other, and each character has to face that duality within themselves.
“Magic is a tricky thing. Not easily measured or metered or weighed.”
The end result is a story that is both beautiful and aching. It will make you want to curl deep within the warm confines of an oversized blanket, with a warm cup of tea, while staring at a rainy coast. It sweeps you away, completely, entirely. This is a love story but not in a typical way. The Wicked Deep explores love in every sense. Friendship, parenthood, passionate. As she does with the curse and magic, Ernshaw forces us to look at both the negative and positive attributes of love.
In all, I really enjoyed it. There is a bit of an insta-love, so if that sort of thing bothers you, you may not enjoy that plot point. While it may not be perfect, it is a book that makes you feel things. We are given a complex reality where no one is all good or all bad, and that can make you feel a bit unbalanced by the end. I like books that stick with me. Books that force me to figure out why I react certain ways, or feel certain things, and The Wicked Deep was one of those books.
I read this for April (I think) #grishabuddyread hosted by @hollyslittlebookreviews.