The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This goes from a creepy, intriguing beginning to a disappointing climax. The concept is cool but the overall execution is meh. I wish that the tone and style of writing that happen in the opening chapters, and the very last chapter, was throughout the whole book. Regardless, the ghost story plot is clever and I did like the setting of a fairly isolated town on the coast. Plus the addition of our lead gal and her Mom living on an island near the main town added some ambience and opportunity that Shea Ernshaw capitalized on. I mean who doesn't think an old, but still functional, lighthouse isn't a great locale for ghosts to inhabit other girls bodies.
So the real downfall of The Wicked Deep is the characters themselves. Perhaps not their actual personalities or actions; but certainly the awkwardness with which their dialogue and interactions are told to the reader. The lead gal has some great moments in the introduction; but as the pages flipped by I felt like she became awkward and stilted. Not only in her dialogue but even her internal narration lost something. Essentially as the out-of-town boy, who is of course the love interest, showed up it felt too forced. I liked the overall character of the mysterious boy but his dialogue and actions were awkward and made me feel uncomfortable while I read.
From the blurb The Wicked Deep it is apparent that there is likely to be a twist. And yes there is one. I had three theories at one point on what the twist would be. One of them was mostly true. That didn't, surprisingly, take away from the reveal for me. Usually guessing the outcome is not as fun; but in this case there was still so much to happen in the story that I didn't mind I'd figured out the twist early. Unlike many horror or ghost stories the reveal is about 75% in and not at the very end. This allowed for a lot more exciting climactic plot and some additional softer moments between our characters to transpire.
I didn't dislike this book; but I didn't love it. Were someone to ask me if I'd recommend it I'm likely to ask how intrigued they are by the blurb on the back. If they say it's intriguing but their not sure; I'd likely recommend they pass on it. However, for those who love ghost stories, are okay with summer fling love interests and don't mind a few cliche moments, then they are likely to get a satisfactory read from The Wicked Deep.
PS...those who've argued there is a rape scene in this book are reaching, a lot, in my opinion. I didn't even think of it this way until I read someone's comments about it possibly being classified as rape. It's a ghost story where the spirits of dead girls inhabit those of living ones. If you want to insinuate that it's creepy the way one scene plays out I'll say 'okay'. However, in no way do I think Ernshaw made any connection to the scene in question being considered rape-esque. I am hoping that only a small percentage of people actually think this book requires a trigger warning. I do not believe it needs one; nor do I write this note because I think it's at all an offensive scene. Instead I write this to acknowledge that I am aware of the controversy. I'd like to think that most people aren't so negative and pessimistic that they twist an innocent ghost story into something else. This is my personal opinion on the matter and you can, of course, disagree with it.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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