A Dark Enchanting Tale

Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Summary from NetGalley:

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.

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.

ARC provided by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for an honest review.

I still haven’t read this author’s debut novel, but after reading this I certainly want to. This is best read on a snowy winter night beside a roaring fire. At times creepy, but always achingly beautiful.

What I liked:

  • This is such a beautifully written book. The prose is perfect and just makes you feel isolated and as scared as the characters.
  • Nora is amazing. I loved her from the start. She is so sure of who she is even though she doesn’t seem to manifest any powers like all of the Walker women before her.
  • The woods are indeed creepy and will remind you of anytime you have ever walked into a snowy woods at night.
  • Oliver is also a great character, as lost in himself as he is in this world. I was pulling for him through out the book to uncover the truth about himself and what really happened to him.
  • The little vignettes between some of the chapters that talked about the Walker women and their powers (called nightshades). Some were quite interesting as were the women who had them.
  • The overall plot was compelling and hard to put down. I found myself wishing for longer periods of reading time, so that I could finish it.

What I found problematic:

  • I really liked the plot and the story overall. That said it was a way too predictable. I had pretty much figured out what was going on about half way in. There was only one twist I didn’t see coming, but it wasn’t a big one.
  • There was a lot of repetition of some things, like how the Walker women had always lived by the lake and were feared because they were witches. Mentioned way too often.
  • Much of it read more like a contemporary mystery thriller than a supernatural dark fairy tale.
  • The relationship between Nora and Oliver was a bit too insta love for my taste.

Overall this was still a wonderful story. I have seen some comments that the author has reworked the story since the ARC’s were published. If this is true, then I look forward to reading it again and seeing how some of the issues were fixed. I will also definitely be checking out her first book.


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