“These woods are wild and rugged and unkind. They cannot be trusted. Yet, this is where I walk: deep into the mountains. Where no others dare to go. Because I am more darkness than girl. More winter shadows than August sunlight. We are the daughters of the wood, my grandmother would whisper.”
If you’re looking for a magical book to get cozy with this winter, mark your calendars for November 5 and be sure to get your hands on a copy of Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw!
This is Shea’s second book (her first was The Wicked Deep, which I haven’t read yet), and it was incredible. I’d seen positive reviews of her debut novel, and was very excited to receive a digital ARC of Winterwood. I was a little nervous, thinking that my expectations were maybe set a little too high, but readers, this book knocked it out of the park.
Winterwood follows the story of Nora Walker, a young witch with generations of magic behind her. While she hasn’t quite found her magic yet, one cold, wintry night, she does find a lost boy while walking through the Wicker Woods. She brings him home, and finds out that his name is Oliver, and he’s been missing from a local boy’s camp for almost three weeks. How did he survived outside, and endure an epic winter storm? Well, you’ll have to read to find out!
What happens next is pure magic. Nora knows something isn’t quite right, and soon finds herself caught up in gossip from other local boys. They call her moon-witch and assume she’s evil, but what she learns about them is much worse than their assumptions about her.
The writing throughout this book is incredibly immersive and atmospheric. It’s easy to get lost in the pages, and find yourself with Nora inside her cozy little house, or walking in the snow through the woods. It can be hard to find a fantasy novel with such beautiful descriptions, but Winterwood is absolutely stunning.
While the plot is driven by some thriller-elements, the story itself also focuses quite a bit on Nora’s family history, and their relationship to the Wicker Woods. As I mentioned before, Nora’s mother, grandmother, aunts, and many other women before her were all witches. Their family is tied to the woods, they’ve always lived in the same house, and drawn their powers from their surroundings. The book is littered with small anecdotes referring to their history, which I thought added an extra layer to the story.
One thing I will note (that I’ve seen other reviews mention as well) is that some of the major plot points were quite predictable, and I was upset about guessing the ending well before it happened. However, I’ve also seen posts saying that the finished copy will be different from the ARC, and that readers can expect some differences. Hopefully this is adjusted a bit. However, I will also say that this aspect didn’t really deter my overall opinion of the book too much, and the writing alone was enough to make me fall in love with the Wicker Woods and the author’s storytelling.
I’d recommend this book to fans of YA fantasy, someone looking for a cozy winter read, or anyone who enjoys books featuring witches and magic.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley. Winterwood will come out on November 5, 2019, and can be purchased wherever books are sold.