Be careful of the dark, dark wood…
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.
After reading The Wicked Deep also by Shea Ernshaw, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I had heard some say it was better than The Wicked Deep. Others said it was worse. I really loved The Wicked Deep, so I was wary if it would be better or worse. So when I finally did start this, I felt like I was going through a loop, unsure of how to feel.
Going through Winterwood, I couldn’t help but constantly compare this to The Wicked Deep, as it’s my only real comparison in general when it comes to books that have witches and I often see these two books go hand in hand. Most that I’ve seen posting about one often have the other too. So I went into my review comparing them both. If you haven’t read The Wicked Deep, I highly recommend it! You can also check out my review of it here.
Shortly after I started, I was immediately captivated by the atmosphere. We are thrown directly into the story as we follow Nora Walker, who comes from a long line of witches heading into the woods. The descriptions truly helped create an image of these dark wicked woods. These woods that should only be explored during a full moon. And it’s during this particular full moon, that Nora finds the boy who was said to have disappeared from the boys’ camp that rests on the opposite side of the lake from her house. This boy, Oliver had been gone for two weeks and in this winter’s latest storm there’s no way he should have survived. But he’s there in the woods, alive. Nora can’t help but feel the need to uncover how he managed to survive. Though, Oliver has secrets of his own from the night he disappeared.
Shortly after I started, I was immediately captivated by the atmosphere.
This is so different from the storyline of The Wicked Deep, and I’m very grateful I wasn’t reading the same type of plot. I was worried that might be the case. That being said this was so different that I didn’t know what to expect and couldn’t help but miss some of the elements from The Wicked Deep. Especially when it came to dialogue between characters, Winterwood lacked that. We mainly see the viewpoints of Nora and occasionally Oliver, and for the majority of the book, we see both characters alone with their thoughts. So we primarily see their internal dialogue, which wasn’t necessarily bad, but I would have liked to see more interaction between the characters.
We primarily see their internal dialogue, which wasn’t necessarily bad, but I would have liked to see more interaction between the characters.
Going back to the descriptions, I could say that there were times that it was a bit over the top. There would be cases where things were overly described. To the point that it became an eye roll, where the author would say in 5 different ways describe something so simple. I think this was mainly due to the fact that as I mentioned, the characters were often by themselves, so instead of dialogue, we got more descriptions of how they felt or what they saw.
Besides the over descriptive parts, I thought this flowed extremely well. It felt similar to how The Wicked Deep flowed like we just floated through the book. Both I read in just a few short days. I didn’t want this one to end, I became fully immersed in this not-so-winter wonderland world. However, I didn’t love everything that happened or all the characters either. There were definitely some questionable choices.
I didn’t want this one to end, I became fully immersed in this not-so-winter wonderland world.
One thing I especially enjoyed in Winterwood was the forest. The woods was practically a character in itself. To me, it as if it was the equivalent of the curse that fell over the town of Sparrow in The Wicked Deep. In the beginning, we’re vaguely told the details of these dark woods and how it’s to be feared. As we go through the book, we’re slowly explained why that is and the importance of only traveling in them during a full moon.
Another thing I loved was that the author loosely connected the two books. As we’re told Nora’s mother travels to Sparrow to sell her honey. That makes me wonder if these two will be connected with Ernshaw’s new book that’ll be expected next year.
Now my favorite thing about this one, the ending! I've heard several others weren't a fan of how it ended saying it was too happy. So call me lame, but I truly loved how this one ended. It was so bittersweet, especially after all the events that took place. I couldn’t see a better ending. Plus, it was so much better than how The Wicked Deep had ended, that was my least favorite part of that book. I loved everything else but that one’s ending. This one was perfect and it didn’t have any questionable choices.
So call me lame, but I truly loved how this one ended.
Overall, I thought this was another well-written standalone fantasy. If you love witches, I highly recommend this you try this one, and if you’ve read The Wicked Deep. I can’t wait for more of Ernshaw’s books! I’m definitely a forever fan now!
If you haven’t read The Wicked Deep, I highly recommend it! You can also check out my review of it here.