The Wicked Deep, Shea Ernshaw – Book Review

Hello humans! Earlier in the month, I had the pleasure of reviewing The Witch’s Kiss trilogy and now we’re entering the end of March I’m here with another witchy title. The Wicked Deep was one of my anticipated reads for this year, partly due to the gorgeous cover and conceptually. I love stories that are reminiscent of classic ghost stories and this whole book is centred on such a story.

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Find The Wicked Deep on Goodreads

This book took me by surprise on multiple occasions. Most importantly my opinion of the book from start to finish changed drastically. At the beginning, I thought this was going to be a standard ‘oh there are witches and our plucky young protagonist has to deal with it and fall in love’ kind of book. This story does have elements of that trope in it, but it does have a lot more depth to it than that. It takes character development to the next level and it will certainly blow your socks off if you give it time.

As I say, I thought these characters were well written and that they developed well. I will say that, in terms of characters you get to know anything about, the ‘cast’ is small and there are quite a few individuals who you never really get to know on anything more than a superficial level. However, in a short story such as this one, it makes sense to focus on a select few.

This book is dark, be forewarned. It isn’t dark in a gory sense as many ‘trendy’ books are at the moment. It’s darker in the sense that it is genuinely spooky. I was reading this while home alone and started to regret it somewhat. If you enjoy the eerie you will find this worth the read. It is also worth noting that if you aren’t comfortable reading about deaths/murders, in particular, drownings, then don’t read this book.

I think this is a great example of this kind of paranormal story and I’m excited to see what Shea Ernshaw writes in the future.

Ok I’m going to do something a little different now, I have a question I want to pose about an element of the book to my dear readers but it is quite the spoiler so, if you want to avoid spoilers then click away after my rating and go read the book (but then come back and let me know what you think! (You have been warned).

My rating: 5/5 stars

I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Ok, Spoiler alert!!!

So Penny’s body isn’t her own and for pretty much the entire book that is the case. But how does that work for consent? Because obviously Hazel is consenting and so is Bo but it isn’t Hazel’s body? I’m not sure there’s a right answer to this and consent always gets harder to talk about when magic is involved. I’m not asking for a legal definition (because I don’t think current laws take possession into account) I’m just interested in your take on it? I think there might be a wider blog post on magic and consent (it was one of the problems I had with The Goblins of Belwater) but I don’t have time for that here. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!


5 thoughts on “The Wicked Deep, Shea Ernshaw – Book Review

Add yours

  1. Well, Hazel consented and Bo consented. Sex is in the brain, right? It wasn’t Penny’s brain functioning, but Hazel’s because she was possessing her body. So, technically, it was all Hazel’s doing and Penny had no vote on the matter because she wasn’t there anyway. It was her body but not her soul and although it’s definitely not fair to her and it could be considered rape, it wasn’t rape because the guy had no idea??? Oh man, I don’t know. If there’s anyone to blame, it’s Hazel because she didn’t care about the body of the person she was possessing so she violated it in a weird way.


  2. I see this as one of the major “issues” with this book all over the internet right now. Truthfully, I didn’t even think about it until someone else mentioned it in another review. I agree with you about it being different than the gory that is popular right now, instead focusing on a paranormal “weirdness” that is equally entertaining…
    As for your question though, I agree with Chaos Fae…unfortunately I don’t think you can soundly say that Penny was “consenting” to anything while she was possessed. Which of course is an issue for a lot of people, but as you said, those kinds of questions and problems are common within fantasy fiction, and require further investigation and chatter.


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