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Review: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw


Winterwood

Shea Ernshaw

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 …more

My Rating

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw is spun of magic, a gift of the dark side of winter and filled with eldritch feels. Nora Walker comes from the long line of Walker women, estranged from society, deemed witches; she is content in her lonely life. Unlike her mother, she wishes to embrace the powers that have run through her bloodline for generations, but she fears she is not worth the Walker name. Set on a lake in the Pacific Northwest, she lives as one of the few yearlong residents. Across the lake, the Jackjaw Camp for Wayward Boys houses those who have expended all their chances in normal society.

The night of a terrible storm, one boy goes missing. Now, two weeks later, Nora dares the Wicker Woods, a place only entered on the full moon, when the wood is sleeping. Only women of her blood can walk the woods during this time without being hunted by what mysteries lurk within, the trees themselves living beings with long memories. On this night Nora does not find one of her usual bobbles, but a boy named Oliver, the boy who went missing. Warmed up and back to normal, save for his lack of memory, Nora returns Oliver to the camp across the lake. It is here she discovers that while one boy went missing that stormy night two weeks ago, another is dead.

Oliver keeps returning to her home, untrusting of the boys he rooms with, the ones who might be his friends, or they might be his enemies. Suspicion looms all around the lake, all the occupants snowed in with the single road to town blocked and the electricity out, Nora follows a thread linking Oliver with the dead boy. Written with anecdotes from the Walker family spellbook, Nora herself struggles to wish she had a touch of the nightshade, the name given to the Walker’s special abilities.

The claustrophobic mystery unwinds at a breakneck pace. The malicious, haunting Wicker Woods is a character in itself, and as formidable as the heroine. A heart wrenching, perfectly sweet romance that underlies the mistrust of both oneself and the cursed wilderness surrounding them elevates Winterwood beyond its categorical genre. Ernshaw delivers a novel that is delectably immersive, eerie and as deep and boundless as the lake, rumored to have no bottom.

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