Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw & A Kiss in the Dark by Gloria Ciocca

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw 
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse 
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Witches 
Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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.
Love is an enchantress - devious and wild. 
It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat. - page 177, eARC
Hocus Pocus, Pratical Magic, and the Salem Witch trials?! I was sold before I even finished the first sentence of the synopsis. As the glowing reviews poured in and the gorgeous cover was revealed, my anticipation and excitement reached record levels, making The Wicked Deep one of most anticipated debuts of 2018.

So did it live up to the hype? Darn right it did! The anticipation, the excitement, the giddiness over being approved for an eARC? So. worth. it. Because The Wicked Deep is an UNFORGETTABLE debut! It's gorgeously written as well as beautifully crafted, and if you can read this book in more than one sitting, I give you major props - I couldn't even begin to have that kind of control.

One of the aspects I loved the most about The Wicked Deep was the setting. I love small, close-knit towns, especially towns that are hiding secrets as deadly as Sparrow's. Shea did such a fantastic job of developing the atmosphere here - it was lush as well as idyllic, but it had a hint of imperfection, a hint of something being terribly wrong. I also like that the town included Penny's family's island. The island was the same as Sparrow, and I appreciated the level of detail Shea put into it. It was easy to picture the main house, the light house, the guest houses, and the orchards, and I loved that it added even more of a mysterious vibe to the novel. 

The plot was also incredibly rich and unique. I enjoyed the way Shea brought together the sister's past, the Sparrow folklore involving them, and current times. The past scenes involving the Sparrow sisters were some of my favorites, and while the end game was obvious, it was still incredibly interesting to see what lead up to their execution. It wasn't at all what I had expected to say the least, and it blew my mind to see how confusion over the unknown could lead to so much hate. The sisters were something different; however, they didn't deserve what they were given by a long shot. The scenes involving current times provided an air of suspense, mystery, and romance. There's so much at at play. Boys are drowning at a record speed, the witches seem to be throwing their rules to the wayside, and Penny - sensible, independent Penny - is finding herself enamored with a boy she barely knows. I loved it all, and the twist towards the end? Didn't see it coming one bit! It blew my mind, and had me re-thinking everything I thought I knew.

Last but not least: the characters. I liked Penny the minute she was introduced. She was quiet and wise, focusing on her mother as well as keeping their island intact; however, there was something fiery about Penny brewing below the surface. It was interesting to see how Penny developed as the novel progressed, and it was interesting to see just how essential she was to the entirety of the plot - both past as well as present. The witches, on the other hand, were enchanting, scandalous, and, most surprisingly, lovable. Some were more spitfire than the others; however, I loved what each brought to the table. I can't even say that they were evil, because in some ways, they had every right to give Sparrow back the pain it gave them. 

I could go on about The Wicked Deep all day, but I'll stop here and leave you with the following: If you love witches and curses and stories of love as well as loss, you're going to adore The Wicked Deep!
5 stars! 

A Kiss in the Dark by Gloria Ciocca 
Release Date: March 6, 2018 
Publisher: Simon Pulse 
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance 
SourceARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
After being kissed by a mystery guy when the lights go out during a football game, Macy is determined to figure out which of three possible boys is the culprit in this funny, poignant, and achingly romantic novel from the author of Last Year’s Mistake.

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, senior Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless—but he’s gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special—and oddly familiar—about her mystery kisser.

Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so-random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.

Soon last year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded during junior year are somehow tied to her mystery kisser.

But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.


A Kiss in the Dark is fast paced as well as fun, and Gina even packs in a surprising twist at the end! 

It took A Kiss in the Dark a while to find its footing. I had a hard time at first keeping Macy's friends and potential love interests - there were THREE, which seemed nutty at the time but Gina brought it together quite nicely by the end - straight. Once I got a handle on everything, though, I found it easy to settle in for the long haul! 

A Kiss in the Dark introduces two time periods - Junior Year (a.k.a the year Macy's life turned into trash) and Senior Year (a.k.a. the year of picking up the pieces). I found the big reveal what happened junior year to be interesting as well as slightly suspenseful. I had my theories as to what had happened, but it was still fun to see everything unfold! I also liked the new revelations that Senior year brought with it. 

Macy isn't the most likable character at first. There was something about her that just rubbed me the wrong way; however, as the book progressed, I began to like her more and more. I loved seeing her take charge of her life again as well as go all Veronica Mars when it came to finding that mysterious kisser. I also loved that she had a hobby in the form of photography/yearbook. I found the three potential love interests to be likable and interesting as well. Ben, however, had my heart from the start. He was so stinkin' cute. Plus the ways he would go out of this way to help Macy during their junior year? I was SWOONING! 

Despite a slow start, A Kiss in the Dark is yet another enjoyable YA contemporary, and while it may be a bit premature to say this considering it's only February, I'll say it anyway: 
it would be a perfect beach/pool side read.

3.5 stars!!  


  1. We had the same rating for both these books. The Wicked Deep was so good, and so much more than I expected. I will definitely read more from Ernshaw. I liked A Kiss in the Dark, but it wasn't quite the story I expected. I thought there would be more romance.

  2. I am SO excited for The Wicked Deep!! I also adore that premise, and I love eerie small towns! It sounds incredible. Great review, Lauren, and thanks for sharing :) I'm even more desperate to read it now, haha ;)


I love comments so never be afraid to leave one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Design by Imagination Designs
Artwork by www.CreateTheCut.com