THE WICKED DEEP by SHEA ERNSHAW (MARCH 2018)
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw reads like it should have come out in 2008. This isn’t an insult. Coming from me, it’s an incredibly high compliment. If you don’t remember, 2008 was the height of the YA paranormal trend. The movie adaptation for Twilight had just come out, vampire books were coming out every month, and fourteen year old me couldn’t get enough of it. Reading The Wicked Deep transported me back to that magical place and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Wicked Deep follows Penny Talbot, one of the sole residents of Lumiere Island adjacent to the town of Sparrow, Oregon. Both Sparrow and the island are mired in superstition. Penny’s best friend’s mother makes special cupcakes to help people forget bad memories. Penny’s mother used to read tarot cards for a living. Spookiest of all is what locals call the Swan Season. The Swan Season refers to the one week every year in which Sparrow’s resident ghosts come back to haunt the town. However, they don’t just appear in your hallways at night or move the oculus on your Ouija board. They possess the bodies of local girls and drown as many boys as they can throughout the course of the week.
The Swan Season is named as such for the Swan Sisters, who lived in Sparrow hundreds of years ago only to meet their grisly end at the bottom of the ocean. The Swan Sisters were accused of being witches, of course, and their existence could not be tolerated. And thus the villagers unwittingly created Swan Season, which, hundreds of years later, is still treated like a macabre celebration by Sparrow’s townsfolk.
The best thing about The Wicked Deep is definitely its setting. Sparrow and Lumiere Island are like characters unto themselves. They’re creepy and superstitious and almost seem to exist in a world just slightly separate from ours. I loved the idea of Swan Season and how tourists would come from miles around just to spectate the deaths of all these boys. There’s a Crucible-like aspect to this book as well, since no one can completely figure out which girls the Swan Sisters have possessed. Literal witch hunts ensue.
Unless you’re Penny, because she can actually see the spirits of the sisters as they possess a body. Penny herself isn’t the most spectacular main character, but she does her job. Her love interest, Bo, is fine, too, but this isn’t the sort of book you read for the characters. You read it for the atmosphere, the setting, the plot. Speaking of the plot, there’s a big reveal at the end that I guessed halfway through, but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the book.
If you like witchy stories with a bit of a creep factor, then The Wicked Deep is something you should check out. Come to the Oreana Library to check out our copy today!