• Sarah Leonard

"The Wicked Deep" Book Review

Updated: Jun 25, 2019


Author: Shea Ernshaw

Genre: YA

Rating: 5/5

The Wicked Deep? More like Wicked GOOD. Don’t hate me too much for the pun…The Wicked Deep is a YA novel by Shea Ernshaw that earned its 5/5 easily. Why don’t we dive right into the plot? Another pun you’ll hate me for.


Two centuries ago in the town of Sparrow, three sisters were accused of witchcraft and were killed by being drowned in the lake. But with that “death” came an evil curse. Now, every year on June 1st, they inhabit the bodies of three girls and lure boys into the water, drowning them in vengeance. Never has the curse been broken. But this year may be different.


Dive? Water? Get the pun now?


After reading The Wicked Deep, you’ll probably avoid swimming for a while, because the novel makes every body of water look like a giant hand waiting to curl its fingers around you and yank you down into oblivion.


Doesn’t this book sound fun already?


Well, it’s absolutely incredible. I would have finished it in one sitting if I had the time. The plot sounds as good as it is, but written on paper, it’s something even more well-crafted. There are just enough surprises and plot-twists, and the story is so divisively written that you never see them coming. Once they do show up, you look back and realize all the little hints hidden within the prose that supported this new knowledge/event. The clues were there all along.


This only adds to the mystery Ernshaw creates within the foundation of her novel. It goes as deep as the prose itself, building this mystic tone that carries throughout the story. The way she develops Sparrow makes me think of the odd, mysterious small towns in TV shows like Riverdale or books like Twilight. Or even a type of town you’d see in A Series of Unfortunate Events.


Now, it’s hard to avoid the notorious plot holes. Attempting to can be like running through a minefield. While reading The Wicked Deep, I kept trying to find them. Kept trying to look for a way the townspeople could have kept this mess from happening, but all my theories either ended with me realizing people can’t be controlled like that or that they shouldn’t be controlled like that. Can’t really post guards by the water. Girls would find a way to slip around. Locking them all up somewhere would simply be barbarous.


Basically, Ernshaw does a good job at sucking the reader into this conflict and making them feel just as helpless as the characters in the novel. She navigates that minefield like a pro. What she also does a great job at is using metaphors and prose of the like to create incredible visuals. She uses original, unique sentences that don't need more than a line or so to create the perfect image. Here are some of my favorite examples:


"He scrubs a hand over his head, pushing back the hood that had shrouded his face, revealing stark, deep green eyes the color of the forest after it rains" (21).

"It's not like she's completely lost all sense of reality, but the edges of her world have dulled. Like hitting mute on the remote control. You can still see the picture buzzing on the TV; the colors are all there, but there's no sound" (24)

"He tilts his head back to look up at the sky, sewn together with stars."

"This thing I feel for him is working its way into my bones, like water through cracks in my surface. When it freezes, it will either shatter me into a million pieces or make me stronger" (177).

She uses these mundane things we have all seen and experienced to describe something so different. But when I think about it, I have seen a forest after rain, and for some reason it helps me know exactly what the man's eyes look like in a very interesting way. I've muted a TV during commercials, and I get exactly what she's saying there as well. It's brilliant.


Now, this next part has the tiniest, tiniest spoiler. It simply states what to expect of the ending: it’s not one that will leave you happy. If any of you have read the Divergent series, you know that the novel has a sad ending. Not only that, but it pissed a lot of people off. I haven’t read the series, so I can’t vouch for that. However, I have asked why, and a lot of people said it was just so sudden. And after all those discussions, I have put the pieces together. The ending wasn’t only sad, but it was sudden in the sense that it brutally broke readers’ expectations. The tone of the novel apparently set up for a satisfactory ending, or at least a sad one that was less immediate.


It’s okay to break readers’ expectations, but don’t do it in a way that damages their trust. The Wicked Deep has a sad ending, but that ending fits the tone of the novel. When it happened, I didn’t feel as though Ernshaw had betrayed me. I felt something like content melancholy. Although it was sad, it also has good things that come from it.


Really, this novel is incredible. Even though I didn’t exactly get a happy, cheesy ending, I don’t think I would have liked that ending. I wouldn’t have fully believed in it. The novel reads like it will be a stand-alone, and I haven’t seen any news on there being a sequel. However, Netflix did buy the rights! I’m really looking forward to watching that!


Let me know in the comments or DM what you thought of the book! I hope you like it as much as I do. ‘Till next time, Nooksters!


#book #YA #youngadult #middlegread #bookreview #nooked