Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Witches
Melancholic, eerie and deeply atmospheric!
The Lady Astor arrives in the gloomy town of Sparrow, carrying the Swan sisters. Exotic, elegant and sensual, Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel Swan rattle the foundations of the close-knit society with their numerous dalliances and scandalous affairs with men that are not available. Whispers about potions and hexes become cries and screams, and the town of Sparrow finds them guilty of witchcraft in a desperate attempt to defend all those innocent citizens the amoral sisters seduced. And so, on summer solstice, they drown them.
“We wait for death. We hold our breath. We know it's coming, and still we flinch when it claws at our throats and pulls us under.”
In the small town of two thousand and twenty four inhabitans, nothing interesting happens. Well, almost nothing; on the first day of June comes the singing, signaling the beginning of the Swan Season. Each year the three wrongfully murdered sisters claim the bodies of three girls, taking control of them. Then the drownings begin. And so does the distrust, and the witch hunt. It's on the eve of the Swan Season that Penny Talbot meets Bo, a strange boy with ghosts in his eyes. Together, they try to stop the Swan sisters before the town mourns once more the loss of young life. But Bo and Penny are tethered to the haunting of the Swan sisters in fundamental ways, and stopping the killings might have fatal consequences to them both.
I read The Wicked Deep one of those days.
The days in need for a forgetful cake to wipe away the sour taste of disappointment and discomfort from my mouth. Using a note reminding me to take delivery of a certificate from the Court of First Instance as a bookmark, a turmoil of unpleasant thoughts and emotions raging inside me, I dived into its wicked, deep waters, I tasted the salt of the sea, I stood in the rain while waterdrops cascaded my face and soaked my clothes, I felt the chill piercing my skin, reaching to the marrow. And I smiled. Its haunted pages reflected my dark mood, and I relished all those moments laden in mystery, danger and heartache.
The Wicked Deep was the answer to my silent pleas.
“Love is an enchantress—devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat.”
Shea Ernshaw is also an enchantress. While her debut was spooky, it had a fairytalish vibe I found deeply endearing, like coming home after a long day. Her writing had a nostalgic spark of magic that illuminated everything in blue and grey shades, depicting the emotional state and the secrets of her heroes. Sharing tidbits of the past during the unfolding of the current events, she eventually shed light on the tragedy that took place all those years ago in a cursed town that paid the price of the cruelty and ignorance of its inhabitants. It was not a happy story. It was soaked in revenge, fear, and something more. The desperate need to belong, and shape a future of your own. Penny and Bo were two equally tormented characters that managed to speak to me. Their connection was depicted in a sweet, heart-warming manner that was a ray of sunlight in this bleak and dreary town.
“I once read a poem about love being fragile, as thin as glass and easily broken. But that is not the kind of love that survives in a place like this. It must be hardy and enduring. It must have grit.”
The reason I didn't give the fifth star to a novel I devoured is rather complicated. I figured out the plot twist pretty soon, and, while it was brilliant, a part of me wishes it would never happen, because it messed up my feelings, and left me with a bitter taste after I finished it. But, like I said before, this story wasn't meant to be happy. It was a peculiar mix of water and sun, warmth and cold, and I can't help but admit that the ending was oddly fitting.
The truth remains that The Wicked Deep is a splendid debut I highly recommend!