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The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw is 100% one of those books that I picked up, because the cover is gorgeous (and shiny!) A month or so later, in my pre-college semester desire for something light, I finally opened it up. The story goes like this:

In the early 1800s, three sisters – Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan – land in the small coastal town Sparrow, Washington state. Each was beautiful, lusted after by men throughout the town, and misunderstood. They open a perfumery, flirt with the boys, and a year later, pay for their indiscretions. The towns people sentence the Swan sisters on summer solstice, charging them with witchcraft and drowning them in the harbor for their crimes. Every summer since, from June 1st to summer solstice, the spirits of the three sisters have haunted Sparrow, and this year is no exception.

We fast forward two centuries to the perspective of Penny Talbot, a high-school girl who keeps to herself on an island off the coast with her mother. June 1st every year for her entire life, the three sisters take over the bodies of three teenage girls, and before summer solstice, each takes the life of one or more teenage boys, drowning them in the harbor. Swan season – as it's come to be known – is days away along with the anniversary of Penny's father's disappearance three years ago. Her best friend, Rose, convinces her to join the other high-schoolers in a drunken party on the beach the night of May 31st, kicking off the now tourist attracting season of death.

What's different? A boy, of course. Bo, a recently graduated boy deemed neither local or tourist, comes to Penny looking for work in the island's lighthouse, completely unaware of the dangerous time of year. Penny naturally feels the need to protect him, unintentionally painting a target on his back. But who's bodies have the sister's taken this season? What do the Swan sister's want with her? With him? Why did Bo come to a cursed town, and why can't Penny help but feel drawn to him? So many questions, and so little time to find the answers before the curse closes in.

This book is so, so, SO entertaining. It has adventure, romance, mystery, and twists like none other. Going into this book – the young adult boy-meets-girl romance with a menacing supernatural element – I thought that it would be just another twist on the same storyline. In reality, there were multiple surprises that kept me guessing to the very end. It is obviously written by a woman with a good sense for storytelling and a practiced understanding of writing. The Wicked Deep is well-crafted, entertaining, and so much more than I expected. It was the perfect last hurrah for my summer reading.

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