Spoiler Free Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Title: The Wicked Deep

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Pub. Date: March 6th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Pages: 320

Format: Physical

Buddy Read: Melanie @Meltotheany, Amy @ACourtOfCrownsandQuills , Jules @JAIronside, Julie @PagesandPens, and Paloma

    

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.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I read this dark gem of a book and I cannot stop thinking about it! I typically don’t pick up witchy reads til’ the Fall season but couldn’t resist picking this one up when I laid eyes on the STUNNING cover 😍 and I am SOOOO glad I did! easily one of my favorite reads this year so far, The Wicked Deep is 5 star worthy in my little bookworm 💜! This beautiful sad and atmospheric read truly sunk its teeth into me & wouldn’t let go into the wee hours of the morning. Very rarely do I get chills while reading a book but opening a single page in this one was like stepping foot onto Sparrow Oregon. I found myself instantly drawn to the water so much so that we drove to a nearby pier for the afternoon. This book stirred the senses and made you a willing participant, from the bonfires on the eve of the Summer Solstice to the Crucible effect the day after a body washed ashore. I was looking at everyone with a critical eye trying to figure out what was what (intentionally vague cause spoilers 😂) & even when we all figured it out, it was still hella enjoyable!

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We meet our MC Penny who lives on the private island of Lumiere with her mother who has mentally checked out ever since the day her husband walked out never to be seen or heard of again. Penny isn’t your typical teenager & prefers to keep to herself In her room studying tide charts. She takes a small boat ride every morning into town to attend the Sparrow High School where she has one really close friend. Every year Sparrow prepares for the tourist attraction their town turns into during the week leading up to the Summer Solstice. Every year one boy dies & his body is washed ashore. It is believed to be a curse placed on the town as retribution for the unjust killings of the Swan sisters. Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel were said to be responsible for many a broken home. They were accused of seducing the husbands and boyfriends away from the women of Sparrow. Stones tied to their ankles, they were mercilessly drowned. They are believed to return on the Summer Solstice to inhabit the body of unsuspecting girls, each seduces a boy, and drown them within a brief period of time.  Sometimes it’s three boys & other times they may get greedy. The townspeople have accepted this curse, accustomed to hearing the harbor bells ring when another male body is found floating in the waters. Once the last sister has had her kill, the town resumes back to normal. Everyone hoping it isn’t one of their boys this time around.

Photo credits: Dina Demille Tumblr

One of the most chilling aspects of this book is how acceptant the townspeople have become. Sparrow is known for this curse and the tourists it draws in for the summer season only add to the creepy vibes. The town is buzzing, every girl is suspected of being possessed by one of the Swan sisters. Sparrow’s boys aren’t safe & neither are those visiting for the season.  Bo, an out of towner looking for employment responds to a outdated Help Wanted ad posted by Penny. There was a time Penny was open to the idea of getting a second set of hands to help with the light tower near Lumiere island. Eventually this became her undertaking but that all changes when Bo enters the scene. Both Penny & Bo carry secrets and they know this about each other. Was it a case of instalove? not in my opinion. Penny wasn’t thrilled to help this guy out when he first showed up. Bo was more focused on keeping a low profile while gardening on the island for some extra cash. Their story didn’t have any of the butterfly feelings other ships in YA are known for. I didn’t expect to fall in love with their story but I did & I know that’s because theirs is both sad and beautiful.

The Wicked Deep is one of those haunting reads that’ll stay in my mind & heart for many years to come. One that I can see myself getting sucked into every year whenever the mood for a dark read set in a small town by the water. I know that I’ll also be re-reading this one when we get closer to the date of it’s premiere on Netflix (see here) which I’m hoping is just as wonderful as this book cause it SOOOO deserves to be brought to life on the screen 🙌🏼


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Review: To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Title: To Kill A Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Pub. Date: March 6th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Macmillan

Pages: 384

Format: eGalley

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan, Netgalley, and Alexandra Christo for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

DISCLAIMER: This review will contain much GUSHING & RAVING cause it is worthy of all that & much more!

As per usual, it takes me longer to find the words to adequately describe how I felt about a book when It falls into the category of GAHHH! This was EPIC & everyone will love it & this beautiful jewel of a book needs to be framed on my wall! I had the pleasure of reading To Kill a Kingdom with a group of 4 other bookworms (will be listed at the end of review) & besides this being my first group buddy read, what marks this one as very special was that EVERY single one of the readers LOVED this book to pieces!

We’re introduced to our MC Lira the Siren daughter to the Queen of the Sea while she and her cousin scout out a Prince for the killing. Lira prides herself to be known as the ‘Prince’s Bane’  a reputation she’s worked hard to earn by ripping out the hearts of many Princes. This time however, she was to only oversee her cousin Khalia who was to kill & take her 15th heart. Lira broke tradition by killing & stealing a heart for herself bringing her count to 18 hearts. As heir to the Sea Queen’s throne, she has a limit of 60 hearts she can kill and steal before she must give up the crown. This angered her mother the Sea Queen who handed down her punishment, one aimed at humiliating her as well as cause her pain. When Lira veers from her mothers orders as part of her punishment, the Sea Queen strips her of everything that makes her a Siren and leaves her in human form. Of all the things Lira despises, humans are at the very top of the list. She no longer has her siren song and therefore can’t lure anyone in. The Sea Queen has given her until the Winter Solstice to kill Prince Elian of Midas known as ‘The Siren Hunter’ …

Prince Elian aka The Pirate Prince or The Siren Hunter is on a self assigned mission to eliminate the Sirens as a threat. Aboard The Saad he is loved by his crew for his down to earth humble nature. To the crew he isn’t a Prince, he’s their captain and one of them. Traveling the high seas they hunt sirens, specifically The Prince’s Bane. Elian believes if he can get the Siren Queen’s daughter, he can get to the Siren Queen herself and put an end to all of the killings.

Lira- Our MC isn’t supposed to be someone you end up loving…she’s a cold blooded killer who relishes collecting hearts under her bed. Yet I can’t recall ever loving a villain more than Lira. She’s been raised to kill by her mother the Sea Queen who is by all means Ursula on steroids lol. Love is a foreign word. Humans are disgusting & weak. The hunt for royal blood is what she’s known for. Christo created Lira’s character & gave her so much depth & development, seeing her whole outlook evolve was one of the BEST things about this book. Lira has a toxic abusive relationship with her mother. Many times her mother will lash out verbally & physically yet Lira aims to please the Sea Queen…she seeks out her approval but above all she wants to be seen as a worthy heir to the Sea Queen’s throne. Now, the scenes between Lira and Elian were truly enjoyable to read! the witty banter between these two made me laugh out loud & shake my head with a smile from ear to ear Haha! this is a hate to love that will leave you at the edge of your seat shipping these two for days! 😉

Elian-Many have compared him to Nikolai Lantsov & I can definitely see these two getting along just fine! Elian knows he isn’t suited for the throne, court life just isn’t for him and he’d much rather let his little sister take the crown when the time comes. Travel and freedom is in his blood and if it wasn’t hunting Sirens to protect the kingdoms, he’d still opt for the sails. Elian’s fierce loyalty to his crew keeps him from instantly falling for Lira & I admired how he put them above everything. The fact that he could keep up with Lira’s sharp wit made him instantly a fave in my book.

The Sea Queen- I may have feared Ursula as a child but that never kept me away from watching The Little Mermaid over & over again. There was something about the villainous Queen that command respect & when we meet the Sea Queen it’s really no different. Christo gave us a vivid description of her tentacles & ruby red eyes that will freeze the blood running through your veins with fear whilst reading. The scenes with the Sea Queen were tough because of how abusive she is towards Lira, it’s not your average mother/daughter relationship & she won’t hesitate to kill her daughter if need be. The Sea Queen knows her time on the throne is quickly coming to an end & she’s not going out without a fight.

Honorable Mentions: Khalia aka Lira’s cousin, this side character is the definition of Ride or Die! she’s the one I’d want in my corner facing any opponent. Khalia took some hits from the Sea Queen to protect Lira & this is why Lira feels protective over her. Lira may not know what love is but Khalia comes close to what can defined as a loved one for her. The Saad Crew also goes hard for their Captain & Elian is very lucky to have a newfound group of people he can call family when he’s away from home. I love this above everything being that I am someone who has had to make family from friends, sometimes these bonds run deeper than blood.

 I can go on for days about the writing & world building in TKAK and never tire! In the buddy read I participated in, it was mentioned that the battle scenes were so vivid they are practically made for the screen & couldn’t have agreed more with that statement. This story played out seamlessly in my mind & was a real treat & feast for my imagination. Filled with complex multi-faceted characters, there really was no hero to this story. In fact this book made me think a whole lot of the age old debate on nature vs. nurture…and I loved reading Lira’s stream of consciousness as she asked herself what if she’d been raised to love & not to kill. Could she ever be a different kind of ruler? could she ever love someone? Or is killing a part of who she is? These characters were so well fleshed out that it would be impossible to forget them. I was pleasantly surprised to see Christo weave in the King Midas mythology when creating the City Of Gold Prince Elian and his family rule over. Again, vivid imagery when it came to the kingdoms amplified my reading experience and left me enamored with this world as a whole. It’s safe to say I will be reading EVERYTHING Alexandra Christo writes! be it short stories, Novellas, full length novels! encyclopedias! the backs of cereal boxes YOU NAME IT! To Kill a Kingdom hits shelves tomorrow March 6th & this is one you won’t want to miss 😉


Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a FAB weekend, I was able to get a lot of reading in thanks to my wonderful hubby which means I was in BOOKWORM HEAVEN! HAHA!  To Kill a Kingdom was a buddy read with some awesome bookworms…Melanie @Meltotheany, Destiny@HowlingLibraries, Jules @ Ja Ironside, and Wren @FablesandWren they made my first group buddy read such a wonderful experience, thank you <‘s! 

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