by Shea Ernshaw
Published by Simon Pulse
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Magic, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, YA
Format Read: ARC
Deluxe edition with special embellishments on first printing only.
From New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic, where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.
Be careful of the dark, dark wood…
Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.
Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.
But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.
For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Set in the beautiful snowed in mountains, Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw follows Nora, a descendant of witches who have long walked the forests of Jackjaw Lake and are said to have come from their very depths. When Nora wanders into the Wicker Woods under the cover of the full moon, she finds something she never intended— a boy. One who has been missing for two weeks. Time stops, and Nora is overcome with a sense that things are not as they should be. She feels an uncanny connection to the boy, Oliver and finds herself deep in the middle of the mystery of his disappearance. She soon learns from the camp that the night one boy went missing from the camp across the lake, another died. Is Oliver responsible for that boys death? What happened that night, and will Oliver ever remember— or tell the truth?
Winterwood is so intensely full of imagery and beautiful writing, I wish I could give it a higher rating. I just had too hard of a time relating to the main character, Nora as well as believing the connections she develops with the other characters of the story. Some of the character development needs more work before I believe the emotions that fuel the characters actions.
And in books, those with nothing to lose always become the villain. This is how their story begins– with loss and sadness that quickly turns into anger and spire and no turning back. – Shea Ernshaw, Winterwood
The setting itself is beautiful. The Wicker Wood is given emotion, motive and desires that fuel a lot of things happening in the story. Ernshaw is gifted in painting a beautiful snow globe of a world with her words. She develops a silent lake community with much to hide, even as majority of the residents of the lake are gone for winter. The time spent on the forest, lake and overall setting could have been spent on the other character development to have a more rounded story as a whole.
If you pay attention, Shea Ernshaw leaves you enough Easter eggs to solve pieces and parts of the mystery as the book goes on, but the end still caught me by surprise. I knew what was happening as she laid out the events and solved things as the story went on (this may bother you, but to me I didn’t know for sure if I was right or wrong, and the ending you have no way to solve beforehand). The words and imagery Ernshaw use help to build the suspense of the story and the ever present dread the reader feels. You are constantly sensing that parts and pieces of the story are missing (pointedly may I add ). She uses repetition like a poet to immerse her reader into the world of Jackjaw Lake and to give the reader a solid knowledge base of truth to compare to the many things we just do not know.
It’s odd how easily you can fool yourself into believing there is nothing to fear. How easily you can look at a boy you hardly know and trust every word that leaves is lips. Maybe I am a fool. -Shea Ernshaw, Winterwood
The most magical part of the book, and my favorite, is the biographies littered throughout that depict the lives and stories of witches past— the ancestors of Nora! It tickled me to read their funny stories and catch the simple spells at the end to sample the nightshades of witches past. Shea does a very well done job describing the witches and making their way of life believable and enchanting. Again, if the other characters had more history and development like the witches, I think the story easily could have had 5 stars from me.
In the end, the story is an outstanding read and one I do recommend even though my rating is not all that high due to the issues I’ve pointed out above. If you like dark twisty stories with death, mystery and witches- make sure it is on your to be read lists of the year!
As an avid book reader, I am always finding time to catch a book whether it be on my iPhone or Kindle or a nice classic paper back! My little guy whose 3 keeps me busy and on my toes as well as my husband– so finding such time can be hard but also important to keep my sanity. My favorite reads are ones that let me escape and dive into a magical alternate reality or world as well as books full of mystery and twists and turns. Bonus points if it involves both!! Favorite authors at the moment: Anything Leigh Bardugo, loved the conclusion of the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber and I am always down for some Holly Black- she is the reason I love to read after finding Tithe in my B&N in the 7th grade.