ARC Book Review: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Book: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Expected Publication is November 5, 2019 by Simon Pulse|Expected Number Of Pages: 320

Where I Got It: I received an advanced reader copy from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance set deep in the magical snow-covered forest, where the appearance of a mysterious boy unearths secrets that awakens the enchanted, but angry, woods.

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.

I really enjoyed The Wicked Deep when I read it around a year ago, and I’ve been looking forward to read Winterwood for quite a while.  I liked it but not as much as I thought I would.

I really liked the atmosphere.  There’s something quiet, creepy and isolating about the woods and the houses that are nearby.  With the snowstorm, and not being able to leave, it felt suffocating.  Gothic comes to mind, and there were times when I forgot that this book wasn’t set decades ago, but was set in our present.  Something about the woods and lake felt so old.

The setting is as much as a character as the actual people we see.  I’m amazed Ernshaw was able to do it, and do it well but this book was the perfect book to read this time of year.

I knew something was going on with Oliver but I wasn’t sure what it was.  You think you know what happened, but you really don’t.  Unless you’re better at guessing and figuring things out than I am, which is possible.  In all honesty, I’m not sure how I feel about him.

I don’t have strong feelings either way, and I honestly couldn’t tell you much about him.  Even though he does narrate part of the book, not a lot stands out.  You do see him struggle with telling Nora about what happened the night that led him to being in the woods, and seeing the mystery unravel was interesting but I wasn’t super-interested in that part of the book.

Don’t get me wrong, I was interested in unraveling the mystery of Oliver but it wasn’t what kept me reading.

What kept me reading was the magic and the forest.  Nora’s family had quite the history, and I loved seeing the sections of the book that described someone in her family.  I was wondering if Nora had anything magical, and it turned out she did, but it’s not something we see until the end of the book.  I was surprised by her abilities, and it makes me wonder why we didn’t see it before.  But maybe there wasn’t a need for her ability to make an appearance until the events of this book.

Some things were repetitive- like how weird people thought her family was, and how her mom didn’t acknowledge they were witches.  It didn’t detract from the book, but it did get tiring to hear it throughout the book.

3 stars.  Winterwood is definitely slow-paced, and not a lot happens in terms of plot, but the atmosphere and the setting were amazing.

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