The Wicked Deep by Shea ErnshawThe Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep

byShea Ernshaw

Hardcover | March 6, 2018

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A New York Times bestseller

Deluxe edition with special embellishments on first printing only.

Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

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.
Title:The Wicked DeepFormat:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:March 6, 2018Publisher:Simon PulseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1481497340

ISBN - 13:9781481497343


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gorgeously Atmospheric and Captivating The three beautiful Swan sisters, Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel, arrive in Sparrow, Oregon in 1822. No man, single or married, can resist them. The townspeople thinking the women to be witches, tie stones to their ankles and drown them in the ocean. In present day Sparrow, tourists overrun the town as the inhabitants prepare for the yearly festivities honouring the Swan sisters. However, the tradition of parties and festivals is not all the residents come to expect each summer. Since the sisters were drowned, death comes to the town, claiming new victims the same time each year. The approaching Swan season is a time when the legendary sisters are resurrected, seeking revenge as they each inhabit the body of a local girl. But there is one person who may be able to break the curse... Penny Talbot resides with her mother on Lumiere Island, along with two orange tabby cats, Otis and Olga. She uses a small boat to motor across the bay between her home and Sparrow, where she goes to high school. She must traverse a labyrinth of shipwrecks which hark back to the days when supplies were brought in through the port. Now the waters are no longer used for this purpose and there are rumours they are haunted. Three years ago, Penny's father, John, disappeared from the island and has not been seen or heard from since. She knows something terrible must have happened for him to leave his family behind. Her best friend Rose tries to convince Penny to leave Sparrow with her once they graduate, but she is loyal and feels an obligation to her mother, who lives in a haze on the outskirts of reality since John vanished. Sparrow is dreary and rainy, but it is familiar and comfortable, that is until Bo the intriguing stranger arrives. From a young age, Penny was taught by her mother to read fortunes from tea leaves. In the leaves she has seen a mysterious boy who will arrive and capture her heart. Whenever she thinks about leaving Sparrow, the island draws her back. Lumiere Island is exquisitely depicted, with its lighthouse, heavy morning fog and surrounded by the vastness of the Pacific. I could easily picture the tragic vision of Penny's mother standing on the cliffs and looking out to sea, waiting for her lost love to come home to her. The novel has an enchanting fairy tale quality that I found captivating. The story of the witches coming back to exact their revenge is a dark one, but it is unique and beautifully written. The Wicked Deep is gorgeously atmospheric and a book I highly recommend. #PlumReview
Date published: 2018-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved! It was delectably witchy! For as long as I can remember, I've been a ginormous super fan of witchy movies. I remember going to my grandma and papa's house and watching HOCUS POCUS every chance I got, and I remember watching PRACTICAL MAGIC and listening to the soundtrack with my mom. When I first heard about THE WICKED DEEP and saw the stunning cover, I immediately added it to my to-read list...and I jumped to get a chance to read it as soon as I could! Once I started reading, I didn't want to and couldn't put it down! :) THE WICKED DEEP was packed full of witchy goodness, and it had that wonderful foreboding tone that all the greatest stories based on curses have. It really did remind me of HOCUS POCUS and PRACTICAL MAGIC with the premise and the way that the story unfolded. The Swan sisters also gave me serious Winifred/Mary/Sarah and Sally/Gillian vibes! I'm not sure what I was expecting going in, but I didn't really expect to see any parts of the story in the past, but I really loved that you did! The story filtered between the present and the past surrounding the Swan sisters. I really loved how the flashes into the past set up the tone of the underlying story, and how it helped the plot unfold...I thought it was wonderfully done and I loved every single moment of it! Along with the love witchy atmosphere, I loved all of the characters! Penny and Bo were amazing! I loved Penny's best friend, Rose, and I also loved how all of the other secondary characters were introduced from Penny's mother to Rose's mother, to Penny's various classmates. I found the way that they were introduced to be really organic and it had a wonderful flow within the story. The same goes for both Penny and Bo's pasts. As the book description says, both Penny and Bo have secrets that they're keeping from one another...and I adored how these secrets were all revealed! It pulled me in and gave me ALL THE FEELS! As for the story itself, I was hooked! I loved the idea of the curse, and I loved how more and more of the curse and the history of Sparrow were revealed as the story went on. I loved how we saw the way that the curse affected the town and how each part of the curse progressed during the Swan season. And I enjoyed seeing how Penny and Bo's relationship was affected by everything going on around them. THE WICKED DEEP completely sucked me in and it pulled me right under those deep, deep waters. I loved every single moment! I did find the ending to be a little bittersweet! It left me unsettled right after I'd finished reading, but I do think that it fits the story perfectly. I've also found that the longer I get away from it...the more I actually appreciate how this book ended, and I think if I reread it, I'll love it even more! Coincidentally, this is also how I feel every single time I rewatch HOCUS POCUS, so maybe it's the same kind of magic. ;) Overall, I thought THE WICKED DEEP was fantastic! I loved the atmosphere and tone of THE WICKED DEEP were amazing, found the story to be extremely intriguing, and I thought that both the characters and the writing style were phenomenal! If you're a fan of witches, curses, and stories that take you on twists and turns, then I think you'll love this one just as much as I did! :D
Date published: 2018-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magical I bought this book based on the beautiful hardcover design. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but thought why not. Well I'm glad I decided to purchase this book. The words Shea puts on paper, are so enchanting and magical. They truly reel you in and have you clinging to the edge of your seat. At the end you're left craving more of this story. If you love witches, mystery and magic then I recommend this book for you. I promise you will not want to put this book down. The town of Sparrow truly came alive in my mind and it will live there forever.
Date published: 2018-04-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Loved the premise I loved the premise of this book and I think this would make a fun, spooky teen movie. I only gave it 3 stars because I wasn't a huge fan of the author's writing style in this novel, which uses a first person present tense point of view. I also think the editing could have been tighter. There was a lot of stating the obvious, which got on my nerves. Unfortunately, the writing style pulled me out of the story too many times to earn it a higher rating. On the other hand, the story and plot pacing kept me reading all the way to the end. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, but not as good as I was hoping or expecting from other reviews. I would recommend it if you love spooky witch/ghost stories. The cover art (hardcover) is fantastic!
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from OK I was really looking forward to reading this book and I did enjoy it. It started out slow but it built up the suspense and took twists that I did not see coming, which really kept me glued to the pages which is always good for books. However I felt like there were a few too many inconsistencies and I had some trouble following Penny's thoughts and feelings, although a lot of that was explained later in the book. Also I had a lot of trouble suspending my disbelief. ********MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD************** The way the town, the police, the tourists and the country reacted to the "Swan Season" was extremely disturbing and in my opinion unrealistic even if the magic did exist. I prefer my fantasy to have characters and people I can relate with that will act in a similar way to how humans would act if the fantasy was real. I don't think that was done well here which is too bad. Consistent death of boys wouldn't just get ignored by the police and the country, and it especially wouldn't become a tourist spectacle for as long as it did in the book. ********MAJOR SPOILERS**********
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Mini review on GR! Mini review: DNF I received this e-arc via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was looking forward to reading this. I love witches in books. So I had my hopes high. Unfortunately I felt nothing while reading this. For me personally this book lacked atmosphere. The writing certainly didn’t help. I felt that the author was trying to force feeling on you. It simply didn’t feel natural. A book like this requires that. I did enjoy the characters. And their relationships with one-another. Though it wasn’t enough to save this book for me. Don’t recommend.
Date published: 2018-03-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Deliciously Dark, But Not Perfect I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book is so atmospheric. Ernshaw created a dark setting, and often uses dark language to describe the town and even emotions. Everything is tied into the theme of drowning and death. That makes it easy to get swept into the story, and helps the plot feel truly sinister. I also appreciated the little pieces of foreshadowing she included. They weren’t in your face, but I picked up on them nevertheless. I did find that much of the book, particularly in the beginning, is heavy on telling and internal monologue rather than showing. If there had been more showing, then perhaps the romance wouldn’t have felt a bit like insta-love to me. I’m also not quite sold on the ending, even after having some time to collect my thoughts on the book. The novel also has a twist, which I guessed along the way thanks to the foreshadowing. I won’t say here, but I do appreciate where Ernshaw took the story, though I feel that some aspects could’ve been explored a bit more. The only other thing that gives me pause is that the book never really addresses how the girls who are possessed are wronged by the spirits too. I would’ve liked to see that acknowledged since the book already covers how revenge or an eye for an eye is wrong, and how the sisters’ revenge has turned into straight up murder. What do the sisters do in these girls’ bodies besides kill? Do they have sex? And if so, why isn’t that addressed as being wrong? Overall, I did enjoy "The Wicked Deep". It’s a dark, atmospheric, and sinister tale of revenge. It’s also a romance, though I felt that aspect could’ve been handled a lot better. This book is a quick and captivating read, I’ll give it that. But the ending left me feeling a little…disappointed. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! This is a great, original story. I liked the way that the myth of the Swan sisters was incorporated into the story. Parts of their story was told between the chapters of Penny’s narrative. It was an interesting myth that came to life each year in their small town. The story had good pacing. It moved along very quickly. There was a lot that happened in a short amount of time, which kept the story moving. I couldn’t predict who the Swan sisters would turn out to be, which made it more exciting. I was looking for a logical explanation for the whole event, but I couldn’t find one. Bo was also a curious character, since he came out of nowhere and blended in on Penny’s island so well. I was surprised at the ending, but I liked it! This story is a great blend of fantasy and real life. It’s a thrilling seaside adventure for YA lovers! I received a copy of this book from the publisher on NetGalley.
Date published: 2018-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love this book! I picked this one up on the day of its release, because LOOK at that first edition cover (and the hardcover detailed hiding underneath are gorgeous)! And thankfully the story and writing have lived up to the beautiful cover, I'm absolutely hooked by this story and know already it's going to be a five star read! The atmosphere is so vivid and the story so intriguing, I definitely recommend for YA contemporary fantasy readers!
Date published: 2018-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Wickedly Amazing Book! wo hundred years ago, in the village of Sparrow three beautiful sisters accused of being witches were drowned in the ocean. Ever since their tragic deaths, the village of Sparrow has been under a dreadful curse. Every year, before the summer solstice, three girls will be chosen to be possessed by the Swan sisters. The Swan sisters seek nothing but revenge, by luring innocent teenage boys to their deaths by drowning. Seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has grown up with the legend of the Swan sisters. Like the members of her town, she has accepted the curse as retribution for her town’s mistakes. But when a mysterious stranger appears in town, Penny will stop at nothing to protect him from the deadly curse that looms over her town. I was instantly captivated by the setting of a small town bordering the Pacific ocean. The setting reminded me a lot of Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty. There is something inherently mysterious about the ocean. The ocean can hide the most wonderful and deadly secrets. Penny Talbot, the narrator, lives away from the town on a secluded island, Lumiere island, that can only be reached by boat. She lives there with her mother who has completely mentally shut down since her father went missing under strange circumstances. Before, Penny’s mother used to read the future of visitors by examining their tea leaves. Now, Penny must take care of the island and her mother, even if it means abandoning the chance to attend college with her best friend. I was a little surprised to find out that this is Shea Ernshaws’s debut novel. Her writing is so effortless and atmospheric. I was completely sucked into the mysterious of the Swan sisters. As the hours went by, I was glued to the book, desperate to find out if the Swan sisters were actually responsible for all the drownings in the ocean. The only downside about this novel, the romance between Penny and the mysterious stranger, Bo. As much as I like Bo for his mysteriousness, his romance with Penny felt too forced. As much as I adore the blend of romance and paranormal elements, this romance was a too out of place and unnecessary to the plot. I would strongly recommend this book to those who liked Monstrous Beauty, and the movie Hocus Pocus. *I received this advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Atmospheric and Magical! Oooo yes! This was a magical read. Much more lurks beneath the surface of THE WICKED DEEP than I'd expected and I flew through the second half. I've seen comps of Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus, but I'd use Dawson's Creek and Hocus Pocus because the teenage drama is real. So awesome!
Date published: 2018-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Bewitching Bittersweet Tale 4.5 Stars I had chills reading The Wicked Deep. A tale full of bittersweet love, loss and sorrow. Not many stories leave a lasting impression but this one does. The Wicked Deep is a fairly quick read with the plot pulling you in and holding you down from the very start. The whole story was beautifully crafted. The ominous atmosphere, the desperations in the characters and the sense of urgency to the plot drew me into the town of Sparrow. Even if I didn't want to be there because of its history. The myth of the Swan sisters was such a solid foundation to the overall story. Inserted between chapters details to the sisters and relevant parties were carefully revealed. I've had trouble with this style of writing in the past but not with The Wicked Deep. No confusion or doubts whatsoever. I was kept on the edge of my seat as understanding filled me. There were quite a few twists in The Wicked Deep but I was able to guess the major ones. I want to emphasize this did not affect my enjoyment of the story as my heart thumped hard with every confession. Were it not for the clues in the writing I definitely would have done many many double takes. The transitions were really smooth. All of my burning questions were clearly answered. There's a small sense of instalove with the romance though I feel like Ms. Ernshaw does a great job building up Penny and Bo's connection. Her attraction and his feelings made sense. The ending was somber but fitting. Though I can't help but feel a little unfair for Penny. I thought she deserved better than what she got in the end. The Wicked Deep pulled me under its spell. A bewitching story full of mystery and allure, the Swan sisters' tale will not soon be forgotten by me.
Date published: 2018-03-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating, like the song of a siren What an absolute ride this was. By the end I was dizzy and even thinking about it now pulls some heart strings. I was amazed and stumped by this book. I loved Ernshaw’s writing. It was simply beautifully. Eloquently gothic and just right for this kind of story. She transported me effortlessly into the story’s setting. I was there by the sea, I could smell the salty air, feel the cold wind running in my hair and hear the deadly song playing in my ears. Right at the beginning of the book, I guessed one possible twist and doubted myself the whole way. The author wrote it out in a way that made me forget my theory quite often and then it hits you with a full force. The characters were quite interesting. (Although Bo was a little one-dimensional), I can't way much more because of spoilers...let's just say I was intrigued. I absolutely loved the witch legend and their story that is shown in little snippets between chapters. It really added to the mysterious and gothic atmosphere. One thing that really messed me up was the romance. I didn't like how the big twists changed the outcome of the ship and it was insta-love with no real basis for a relationship. By the very end, I pitied Penny because I felt like she got the short end of the stick and I felt that Bo didn’t really have genuine feelings for her. It hardly had any dull moments and I was reading it for long periods of time, completely focused on nothing but this book and the going-ons in it. Shea Ernshaw did a wonderful job with her debut! *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Date published: 2018-02-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The witches are back, and there's hell to pay! Although Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan were drowned many moons ago, these wicked sisters still come back every summer to haunt the little town of Sparrow. A town where their souls will forever be rooted because this is the town that took their lives. These young women were accused of practicing witchcraft and drowned to death, and as long as their souls still haunt the waters surrounding Sparrow: the Swan sisters will come back every year, inhabit a body, and kill whomever they choose. They kill for what was wrongfully done to them, they kill for revenge, and they will show the same amount of mercy that they were given on that very tragic day... none. Two centuries later... Hazel Swan is torn, she loves her sisters, but she does not want to kill anymore. Her heart still yearns for the boy she loved, the life she never got to live with him by her side, and the places she never got to see. Hazel Swan is done seeking revenge. Instead, she is ready to forgive the unforgivable. "Love is an enchantress--devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat." Bo Carter has just arrived in Sparrow with an appetite for vengeance. With no job or place to stay, Penny kindly offers him shelter by letting him reside on Lumiere island with her and her mother. Unaware of each other's dark secrets, they both are about to discover that they are the key to each other's happiness and some much-needed closure. This is a wickedly tragic story about murder, betrayal, loss, and forgiveness. It's a perfect cross between Hocus Pocus and Tuck Everlasting. I cannot recommend this book enough. *I received an eARC for an honest review.
Date published: 2018-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Twist on the Usual Witches I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I honestly read this book in about twenty four hours, because I could not put it down. It's not a long book, but it's so addictive and the plot twists are so good that I just absolutely had to know what happened next. There are a lot of books about witches out there, and I got the impression that Ernshaw not only knows this, but uses it against you as you're reading. Every time you think you've got this figured out, every time you are sure that you're on track with what's happening, you get completely thrown off track when the next bomb is dropped. All of those tropes and clichés that you are used to when it comes to witches are twisted and turned, until you end up with a story you didn't expect. The Good Points of The Wicked Deep: This book is short, sweet, and to the point, which is not something we see done and more importantly, done well these days. There's nothing more than you absolutely need in this book, and it makes it so much more enjoyable to read. I loved how the witches and that aspect of the story was done in this book. It was simple, but absolutely brilliant. This book really goes to show that your magic and magical creatures do not need to be complicated, and that sometimes a solid idea is better than a million and one little details. The atmosphere is amazing. It's creepy, and wonder-filled and you almost feel like you're in that small town on the ocean. Or maybe I just have a thing for islands. Either one works. The plot twists and the way everyone's secrets work into the story is so good. It does make for some tricky character building, but it's honestly worth it for some of the plot twists. The Downsides of The Wicked Deep: Character development is a bit lacking, due to everyone having secrets and the length of the book. If you're in it for the mystery, this probably won't bother you too much, because it does come eventually. But if you're big on character development, this might be a tricky one for you. The romance was... weird. And it kind of makes sense when you get to the end of the book. But it is a bit insta-love-y, and it's pretty awkward and weird. If you saw a couple like that in real life, you'd probably cringe.  All in all, I actually really enjoyed this book. It was perfectly paced, I loved the twists and turns, and I absolutely love what Ernshaw did with her witch legend. If you like revenge stories, witches, or the ocean, you should definitely check out The Wicked Deep.
Date published: 2018-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fan of Hocus Pocus and this book I received an eARC for an honest review. I so thoroughly enjoyed this book! I have never been actually able to read an eBook completely but this book...I ran through it in under 5 hours! I could not put it down. Between almost each chapter, we get a little bit of information about three sisters, named Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel, that are living in Oregon in the early 1800s. I loved these sections as they really helped me differentiate the sisters instead of seeing them just as "those three sisters." I really wanted more of them! (or maybe a prequel companion story? *wink wink at Shea Ernshaw* Getting more of them would've been so much fun and would've really developed that time period and the town. near the end, two of the sisters make references to how the town has changed. Seeing more through the 1800s eyes would've really made this hit home more. In present time, we meet Penny who lives in the small town of Sparrow. I really loved Penny throughout the whole book. She seems like such a good person as well as a local and outside (like a beautiful mash up of her parents.) Now I am not a big fan of romance but wow this book's romance hot me in the feels. I spent the last 1/4 of the book ugly crying like a Kardashian! Little pieces of the book that seemed so casually and normal to include starting being connected and wrapped up. God, Hazel just tore my heart out! I wanna find myself a Bo to heal the broken heart of! The mysteries were really interesting and I definitely did not see all the twists and turns that came at the end...that intertwined past and present and romance and family. PS I cannot wait for this book to come out because there's some pretty beautiful lines in here that MUST get pretty art made for it
Date published: 2018-01-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A For the Lover of Books Review *Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own. I have never seen, nor do I ever plan on ever seeing Hocus Pocus, so if you are looking for someone who can compare the two, I am not your girl. I am however a person who is frustrated with an ARC I expected to like, so there’s that. I think my main criticism for The Wicked Deep is exactly what I kept commenting on through Goodreads while reading it; it was very repetitive. Within the first 21% (roughly), Penny tells us roughly 5 times how her dad was an outsider who was never really accepted by the town. It really bothers me when books do this, because it treats the reader like they are not smart enough to handle the book. I mean, this book seriously explained what moss was at one point. There were also descriptions in strange places. At one point, I remember Penny showing Bo where he will be staying and describing it. Great. What was not great was how when she came back the next morning, she described the things she hadn’t described the first time. Why did the two descriptions have to be separated? Why couldn’t she have just described the cottage in one go? The romance was also a perfect example of insta-love. Hot male stranger meets female protagonist. I’m sure you can guess how that goes. Nothing new there. I found the big reveal quite easy to predict. I guessed what was going to happen very early on. I even guessed who would be possessed by the Swan sisters before it was revealed. I think this one might just be on me, but I’m still taking it as a negative, since it’s no fun to guess the big twist in chapter 5. As for the paranormal aspects, all was going well until the big reveal. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the big twist negates the part of the world-building where the Swan sisters only steal the bodies of girls Penny’s age. Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Wicked Deep, but it was a quick and easy read, earning it 2 stars out of 5.
Date published: 2017-12-31

Read from the Book

The Wicked Deep ONE I have an old black-and-white photograph taken in the 1920s of a woman at a traveling circus floating in a massive tank filled with water, blond hair billowing around her head, legs hidden by a false mermaid’s fin made of metallic fabric and thread to look like scales. She is wispy and angelic, with thin lips pinched tightly together, holding her breath against the icy water. Several men stand in front of the glass tank, staring at her as if she were real. So easily fooled by the spectacle. I think of this photograph every spring, when murmurs begin to circulate through the town of Sparrow about the three sisters who were drowned beyond the maw of the harbor, past Lumiere Island, where I live with my mother. I imagine the three sisters floating like delicate ghosts in the dark shadows beneath the water’s surface, mercurial and preserved just like the sideshow mermaid. Did they struggle to stay above the waterline two centuries ago, when they were forced into the deep, or did they let the weight of each stone carry them swiftly to the cold, rocky bottom of the Pacific?’ A morning fog, somber and damp, slides over the surface of the ocean between Lumiere Island and the town of Sparrow. The water is calm as I walk down to the dock and begin untying the skiff—a flat-bottomed boat with two bench seats and an outboard motor. It’s not ideal for maneuvering in storms or gales but fine as a runner into town and back. Otis and Olga, two orange tabby cats who mysteriously appeared on the island as kittens two years back, have followed me down to the water, mewing behind me as if lamenting my departure. I leave every morning at this time, motoring across the bay before the bell rings for first period—Global Economics class, a subject that I will never use—and every morning they follow me to the dock. The intermittent beam of light from the lighthouse sweeps over the island, and for a moment it brushes across a silhouette standing on the rocky western shore atop the cliff: my mother. Her arms are crossed in her knobby camel-colored sweater wrapped tightly around her fragile torso, and she’s staring out at the vast Pacific like she does each morning, waiting for someone who will never return: my father. Olga rubs up against my jeans, arching her bony back and raising her tail, coaxing me to pick her up, but I don’t have time. I pull the hood of my navy-blue rain slicker up over my head, step into the boat, and yank the cord on the motor until it sputters to life, then steer the boat out into the fog. I can’t see the shore or the town of Sparrow through the dim layer of moisture, but I know it’s there. *  *  * Tall, sawtooth masts rise up like swords from the water, land mines, shipwrecks of years past. If you didn’t know your way, you could run your boat into any of the half-dozen wrecks still haunting these waters. Beneath me lies a web of barnacle-crusted metal, links of rusted chain trailing over broken bows, and fish making their homes in rotted portholes, the rigging long since eaten away by the salty water. It’s a graveyard of ships. But like the local fishermen chugging out through the dreary fume into the open sea, I can navigate the bay with my eyes pinched shut against the cold. The water is deep here. Massive ships used to bring in supplies through this port, but not anymore. Now only small fishing boats and tourist barges sputter through. These waters are haunted, the seamen still say—and they’re right. The skiff bumps against the side of dock eleven, slip number four, where I park the boat while I’m in class. Most seventeen-year-olds have driver’s licenses and rusted-out cars they found on Craigslist or that were handed down from older siblings. But instead, I have a boat. And no use for a car. I sling my canvas bag over my shoulder, weighted down with textbooks, and jog up the gray, slick streets to Sparrow High School. The town of Sparrow was built where two ridges come together—tucked between the sea and mountains—making mudslides all too common here. One day it will likely be washed away completely. It will be pushed down into the water and buried beneath forty feet of rain and silt. There are no fast-food chains in Sparrow, no shopping malls or movie theaters, no Starbucks—although we do have a drive-through coffee hut. Our small town is sheltered from the outside world, trapped in time. We have a whopping total population of two thousand and twenty-four. But that number increases greatly every year on June first, when the tourists converge into town and overtake everything. Rose is standing on the sloping front lawn of Sparrow High, typing on her cell phone. Her wild cinnamon-red hair springs from her head in unruly curls that she loathes. But I’ve always envied the lively way her hair cannot be tamed or tied up or pinned down, while my straight, nut-brown hair cannot be coaxed into any sort of bouncy, cheerful configuration—and I’ve tried. But stick-straight hair is just stick-straight hair. “You’re not ditching me tonight, are you?” she asks when she sees me, tenting both eyebrows and dropping her cell into her once-white book bag that’s been scribbled with Sharpie and colored markers so that it’s now a collage of swirling midnight blues and grassy greens and bubblegum pinks—colorful graffiti art that has left no space untouched. Rose wants to be an artist—Rose is an artist. She’s determined to move to Seattle and attend the Art Institute when we graduate. And she reminds me almost weekly of the fact that she doesn’t want to go alone and I should come with her and be her roommate. To which I’ve skillfully avoided committing since freshmen year. It’s not that I don’t want to escape this rainy, dreadful town, because I do. But I feel trapped, a weight of responsibility settled firmly over me. I can’t leave my mother all alone on the island. I’m all she has left—the only thing still grounding her to reality. And perhaps it’s foolish—naive even—but I also have hope that perhaps my father will return someday. He’ll magically appear on the dock and stroll up to the house as if no time has passed. And I need to be here in case he does. But as our junior year comes to an end and our senior year approaches, I’m forced to consider the rest of my life and the reality that my future might be right here in Sparrow. I might never leave this place. I might be stuck. I’ll stay on the island, reading fortunes from the smeared remains of tea leaves in white porcelain cups just like my mom used to before Dad vanished and never came back. Locals would steer their boats across the harbor, sometimes in secret under a ghost moon, sometimes in the middle of the day because they had an urgent question they needed answered, and they’d sit in our kitchen, fingers tapping on the wood-block table, waiting for Mom to tell them their fate. And afterward they’d leave folded or crumpled or flattened bills on the table just before they left. Mom would slide the money into a flour tin she kept on the shelf next to the stove. And maybe this is the life I’m destined for: sitting at the kitchen table, the sweet scent of chamomile or orange lavender tea settling into my hair, running my finger around the rim of a mug and finding messages in the swirling chaos of leaves. I’ve glimpsed my own future in those leaves many times: a boy blowing in from across the sea, shipwrecked on the island. His heart beating wildly in his chest, his skin made of sand and wind. And my heart unable to resist. It’s the same future I’ve seen in every cup of tea since I was five, when my mom first taught me to decipher leaves. Your fate lies at the bottom of a teacup, she had often whispered to me before shooing me off to bed. And the idea of this future stirs inside me whenever I think about leaving Sparrow—like the island is drawing me back, my fate rooted here. “It’s not ditching if I never said I’d go,” I say in response to Rose’s question. “I won’t allow you to miss another Swan party.” She shifts her hips to the side, looping her right thumb around the strap of her book bag. “Last year I was stuck talking to Hannah Potts until sunrise, and I won’t do it again.” “I’ll think about it,” I say. The Swan party has always served a double purpose: the start of the Swan season and also the end-of-the-school-year bash. It’s a booze-fueled celebration that is an odd mix of excitement to be free of classes and teachers and pop quizzes, blended with the approaching dread of the Swan season. Typically, people get way too smashed and no one remembers any of it. “No thinking, just doing. When you think about things too long, you just talk yourself out of them.” She’s right. I wish I wanted to go—I wish I cared about parties on the beach. But I’ve never felt comfortable at things like this. I’m the girl who lives on Lumiere Island, whose mom went mad and dad went missing, who never hangs out in town after school. Who would rather spend her evening reading tide charts and watching boats chug into port than chugging beers with people I barely know. “You don’t even have to dress up if you don’t want to,” she adds. Dressing up was never an option anyway. Unlike most locals in Sparrow, who keep a standby early 1800s costume tucked away in the back of their closet in preparation for the yearly Swan party, I do not. The warning bell for first period rings, and we follow the parade of students through the main front doors. The hallway smells like floor wax and rotting wood. The windows are single-pane and drafty, the wind rattling the glass in the frames every afternoon. The light fixtures blink and buzz. None of the lockers close because the foundation has shifted several degrees off center. If I had known another town, another high school, I might find this place depressing. But instead, the rain that leaks through the roof and drips onto desks and hallway floors during winter storms just feels familiar. Like home. Rose and I don’t have first period together, so we walk to the end of A Hall, then pause beside the girls’ bathroom before we part ways. “I just don’t know what I’ll tell my mom,” I say, scratching at a remnant of Blueberry Blitz nail polish on my left thumb that Rose made me paint on two weeks back at her house during one of our movie nights—when she decided that to fit in as a serious art major in Seattle she needed to watch classic Alfred Hitchcock movies. As if scary black-and-white films would somehow anoint her as a serious artist. “Tell her you’re going to a party—that you actually have a life. Or just sneak out. She probably won’t even notice you’re gone.” I bite the side of my lip and stop picking at my nail. The truth is, leaving my mom alone for even one night makes me uneasy. What if she woke up in the middle of the night and realized I was no longer asleep in my bed? Would she think I had disappeared just like my dad? Would she go looking for me? Would she do something reckless and stupid? “She’s stuck on that island anyway,” Rose adds. “Where’s she going to go? It’s not like she’s just going to walk out into the ocean.” She pauses and we both stare at each other: Her walking out into the ocean is precisely what I’m afraid of. “What I mean,” Rose corrects, “is that I don’t think anything will happen if you leave her for one night. And you’ll be back right after sunrise.” I look across the hall to the open doorway of my first-period Global Economics class, where nearly everyone is already in their seats. Mr. Gratton is standing at his desk, tapping a pen on a stack of papers, waiting for the final bell to ring. “Please,” Rose begs. “It’s the biggest night of the year, and I don’t want to be the loser who goes solo again.” A slight lisp trails over the word “solo.” When Rose was younger, she talked with a lisp. All her Ss sounded like Ths. In grade school, kids used to tease her whenever a teacher asked her to speak out loud in front of the class. But after regular visits to a speech therapist up in Newport three days a week during our first years of high school, suddenly it was like she stepped out of her old body and into a new one. My awkward, lisping best friend was now reborn: confident and fearless. And even though her appearance didn’t really change, she now radiated like some beautiful exotic species of human that I didn’t recognize, while I stayed exactly the same. I have this sense that someday we won’t even remember why we were friends in the first place. She will float away like a brightly colored bird living in the wrong part of the world, and I will stay behind, gray-feathered and sodden and wingless. “Fine,” I relent, knowing that if I skip another Swan party she might actually disown me as her only friend. She grins widely. “Thank God. I thought I was going to have to kidnap you and drag you there.” She shifts her book bag higher onto her shoulder and says, “See you after class.” She hurries down the hall just as the final bell chimes from the tinny overhead speakers. Today is only a half day: first and second period, because today is also the last day of school before summer break. Tomorrow is June first. And although most high schools don’t start their summer session so early, the town of Sparrow began the countdown months ago. Signs announcing festivals in honor of the Swan sisters have already been hung and draped across the town square and over storefront windows. Tourist season starts tomorrow. And with it comes an influx of outsiders and the beginning of an eerie and deadly tradition that has plagued Sparrow since 1823—ever since the three Swan sisters were drowned in our harbor. Tonight’s party is the start of a season that will bring more than just tourist dollars—it will bring folklore and speculation and doubt about the town’s history. But always, every year without fail or falter, it also brings death.

Editorial Reviews

Spring 18 Indie Next Pick Goodreads Best of the Month for March 2018 Goodreads Most Anticpated YA Novels of 2018 B&N Teen Blog Most Anticipated March YA Novels B&N Teen Blog Most Anticipated Debuts of 2018 B&N Teen Blog Most Anticipated YA Fantasy of 2018 BookBubs 14 New Books 'Harry Potter" fans will love in 2018 "A wickedly chilling debut about ghosts, witches, love, and revenge." -- School Library Journal  "Chilling both by the damp, briny streets of Sparrow and by its residents’ sudden fervor for vengeance." -- BCCB, starred review   "Balancing delicate emotion and authentic suspense, the hypnotic prose pulls readers into the question of how, or if, the curse of the sisters can be broken." --Publishers Weekly  "Readers will drown in this finely crafted, atmospheric book." -- Kirkus "Complex and sweetly satisfying." -- Booklist   "A tale with substance and depth, one of magic and curses, betrayal and revenge, but most importantly, it is a story about the redemptive power of love to make even the worst wrongs, right. -- Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be. "Prepare to be bewitched." -- Paula Stokes, author of Liars, Inc. and Girl Against The Universe. "Eerie and enchanting." -- Jessica Spotswood, author of The Cahill Witch Chronicles and editor of Toil & Trouble "A magical, haunted tale of the sea, spells and secrets. . . . Beware!" -- Shannon Parker, author of The Rattled Bones