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.
This summer I have been reading so many middle grade books to get ready for teaching 5th grade English next year. I’ll have a review coming soon for some middle grade graphic novels I’ve been loving. But I’ve also been reading some creepy books. It feels like it should be Halloween based on my reading mood lately! The Wicked Deep is YA but definitely falls into the creepy book category.
Okay, so this one is going to be a very mixed review. I needed to sit on it for a few days. I really loved this book. I want to go in first with that. However, I’ve seen some very mixed reviews online and on instagram about this book. The first thing I ever heard about it was that it is compared to Hocus Pocus and that’s all I needed to hear. I loved Hocus Pocus growing up. And the cover of this book is absolutely stunning. It’s minimalistic but kind of not. I much prefer the US edition to the UK for this novel. And usually the UK editions are a lean more to the minimal side.
Anyway, back to the story. I don’t want to put too many spoilers in this one because the book is still fairly new and I know some people are reading it for different readathons that are taking place right now. I’ll start with the things I loved…
- The setting. I love the name of the tiny, creepy town Sparrow. It was perfect and rainy like how I wanted the weather to be while I was reading!
- The novel itself gave me Twilight vibes. Partly because it was set in Oregon, but the writing style and the romance in the story reminded me a lot of Bella and Edward. And I wasn’t mad about it! I read this book so quickly because I loved the atmosphere so much. Even though this book does get pretty creepy and I don’t always like creepy books.
- I like the trope of the villain deciding to be good. This book showed a lot of grey areas in this world which I like. People aren’t always black and white. Sometimes our decisions lean more to the grey side or people change. I think Ernshaw pulled this trope off very well without coming off cheesy.
- The flashbacks were great! I normally get bored during flashbacks in movies and in books. You can tell when they’re just being used to fill space or to add random bits to the plot but I loved the flashbacks. I enjoyed seeing the Swan sisters in their normal life and watching how their curse came about and why they were so full of revenge.
- The ending. The ending was very honest. It wasn’t trying to put a pretty bow on top of the story and make everything work out. It’s a breath of fresh air sometimes when reading YA and the story ends realistically instead of in a “Happily Ever After” way. People were hurt, some things are unforgivable, you need to realize when it’s time to let go, etc. These are all very good themes that this book has and I think the ending resonated with me because it went out with a bang.
Somethings I understand other people probably didn’t like about this novel…
- Every hint in this book was thrown in randomly and not folded into the story very neatly. I think it was fine, you can tell it’s Ernshaw’s first novel but where she struggled with this she made up for in other areas.
- Because of how haphazardly these hints were thrown in, it made the book predictable. I know about 1/3 of the way in what the plot twist was. Not that it ruined the story for me, because I really liked seeing how the story unfolded after.
- The romance was a little rushed. Again I wasn’t too mad at this because it reminded me so much of Edward and Bella. And sometimes a girl wants to picture herself staying up late getting to know a hot newcomer to town and hitting off. Love at first date!
I ended up giving this book 4.5 stars. I will be keeping it on my bookshelves and I am more than a little excited to read Ernshaws next book Winterwood. She does really well writing about nature and it doing so in an atmospheric way. I loved it!