Saturday, December 21, 2019

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw {review}

by Shea Ernshaw
publisher: Simon Pulse
release date: November 5th, 2019
hardcover, 336 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: received ARC for review at author event
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.

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.


What can I even say about this? The writing was absolutely gorgeous. Though after Ernshaw's debut, The Wicked Deep quickly and easily became one of my favorites last year I was not the least bit surprised.  In her second standalone YA novel, Shea Ernshaw once again brings all the spookiness and atmospheric writing that I love.  In Winterwood, we are introduced to the legacy of the Walker women of Fir Haven and the dark magic hiding in the surrounding woods. Nora Walker is floundering, feeling uncertain about not having really found a magic in herself to connect her to the long line of women in her family. Her mother has left her alone in more ways than one---always trying to distance herself from their family's legacy. When a winter storm leaves the Fir Haven residence snowed in, Nora finds Oliver Huntsman in the woods and the mystery begins.

This story is such an interesting balance of  being steeped in ancient magical atmosphere and modern social ways.  Nora, being mostly raised by her grandmother, feels so out of a different time, but she can certainly handle herself in tough interactions with the boys from the reform camp across the lake. Her solitude does put her in a vulnerable position when it comes to the possibility of making friends or even falling in love. I adored every moment in the woods---the weird ways of the magic there were just so strange and lovely. The mystery unfold beautifully, and although there was one major twist that readers will likely see coming a mile away, watching it all unravel was so enjoyable.  

If you haven't experienced Ernshaw's unique and haunting storytelling yet, I highly recommend both of these for your winter TBRs. Both are so enchanting.


Shea Ernshaw is an Oregon native and YA author. She often writes late, late, late into the night, enjoys dark woods, scary stories and moonlight on lakes. She drinks loads of tea and believes sunrises are where unicorns hide. She lives with her two cats, a dog, a husband, and a stack of books beside her bed she still needs to read. Her debut THE WICKED DEEP will be published by Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse in 2018. She currently calls Boston home, where she manages an independent bookstore, drinks too much Diet Coke, and pets every dog she meets. 
Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon