Author: Shea Ernshaw
Genre: magical realism, mystery/thriller
Age Group: adult
ARC?: No

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called “Pastoral,” this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.


Review

I love Shea Ernshaw so I picked this book up and added it to my wishlist without even reading what it was about. I mean…it’s Shea Ernshaw, what’s not to like?

For me…well. I liked the book. I did, but it just was not what I was expecting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just didn’t realize what it was about. Would I have wanted to read this book if I had read the description?

No, I probably would not have. And I’m glad I didn’t because I did enjoy the book, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting. I want to say there was nothing that I overly dislike about this novel. I can’t say that I hated any part of it, because I didn’t.

Ernshaw’s writing is just so stunningly beautiful and it lull’s you into the story. I love reading her books because it is so easy to become engrossed and lost in the atmosphere of the book. You get sucked in and aren’t let out until you finish the book.

Part of that is because I felt, even after I finished reading this book I was still thinking about it, and all the little intricate pieces that Ernshaw had woven into the story.

I felt this was a different type of mystery/thriller than I’ve seen recently. It wasn’t your typical one I would say, which makes it stand out among all the mystery/thrillers. And the ending too, was unexpected to me. I was rather shocked about it.

I did love how the story held together and how the plot led you on a journey. There were some parts that had me scratching my head and wondering if I was imagining things and the other half of me was speculating.

I very much enjoyed this book even if it was different than what I expected. I love how the story unfolded and when little clues were revealed to us.

I recommend this book to people who like mind bending thrillers, but at a slower pace. 

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Author: Shea Ernshaw
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: paranormal/supernatural, mystery
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

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.


Review

I absolutely flew through this in one sitting. I was addicted from the moment I read it. Witches? Check. Winter? Check. Magic? Check. It checked all the things I love – and I cannot even express how much I fell in love with this book! I previously read The Wicked Deep and enjoyed that one, so I assumed I would probably like this one as well – but I did not expect to like it as much as I did.

The night snow sailed down from the mountains and howled against the eaves of the old house as if through gritted teeth – cruel and baleful and full of bad omens not to be ignored.

However, this book is not going to be for everyone. There is pretty much nothing high stakes or super crazy happening in this book. It is a slow build, slow progression, slow pace, slow everything. If you do not like slow books, or if you like action, this one is not going to be for you. If you also don’t like purple or heavy prose, again, this book is not going to be for you.

The moon is whispering your secrets. It knows your darkest thoughts.

I like slow books to an extent – sometimes I feel that they can drag out too long. But Ernshaw does it so well, and partially I think it is because her writing, her characters, the flow of the events and the atmosphere make it come alive. There is nothing like a book that reads so beautifully that I can feel it in my bones. I felt this one in my bones. I absolutely adored it. In fact, I’m giving it five stars even though there was one itty bitty thing I didn’t like, but it was by no means a huge deal.

Because I am more darkness than girl. More winter shadows than August sunlight.

So as I said, I was drawn in by the writing. Ernshaw certainly created an atmosphere for this book, and it some ways it reminded me of another adult fantasy/historical fiction book I loved, The Bear and the Nightingale. To me, it felt similar in style to that. Which is to say, loved it!

I loved how everything was dished out slowly, and that you learn things as you go along, both about Oliver and Nora. There is a lot to love about Nora who is a loner, who misses her grandmother but who also longs to be part of something. I love Nora’s journey in this book, in finding herself. And while it was done subtly, I think it was done well for me.

Plus all the backstory of her ancestors? Absolutely adored those portions! I would love short stories dealing with them! I would read them in a heartbeat!

The girl with moonlight in her veins.

The little problem I mentioned earlier was the romance. I think this book could have stood very well without it for the most part, but because it wasn’t a huge portion of the book, I felt that it didn’t really undermine my five star rating.

The plot was great too – I love how things came to a head in the end, and the closure was wonderful too. I mean, yes, there was some predictability with the book, but honestly it didn’t take away my enjoyment of it at all.

I could rave about this book for days! I was absolutely enthralled with it!

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Author: Shea Ernshaw
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: paranormal/supernatural, fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


Review

Penny lives in Sparrow, Oregon. Every year three witch sisters come back from the dead and drown boys – in revenge for their own murders. This year an outsider comes, and Penny knows Bo is in danger. But Penny will have to make a hard choice, him or her?

They were coquettes, temptresses, and men found them impossible to resist.

I pleased to say: I enjoyed this book! I was a little worried that it was going to be slow paced, but often I enjoy slow paced books. There is slow paced and interesting and slow paced and boring: but this one falls into the former category. This book was not built on a lot of action, but it was built on characters, atmosphere and mystery. And this book worked! It worked in all the right ways for me. It was exactly what I needed for a spooky season read! I absolutely devoured this book in one evening.

The characters in this book are limited. We have Penny, Bo, Rose and some smaller minor characters. Penny and Bo are really the stars of this book, and I really don’t want to talk too much about them for risk of spoilers, but suffice to say, nothing is as you expect in this book: all these characters have secrets to hide. And it is absolutely thrilling to play a guessing game of who you think is who, and what you think is going to happen next. And the characters are a large part of that. Especially Bo as more and more of his secrets are revealed. Not to mention the character arcs overall are well done and well played out. They are worth every moment of slow building tension between Penny and Bo.

Everyone believes they’re immune. Until they’re not.

The main plot is these three witch sisters come back every summer. They steal three girls bodies and go on a murdering spree of local boys. By the end of it, at least three of them are dead. And this summer, Bo is in town, and Penny worries that the witches are going to get him. So she offers him a job out on the island where she lives. Her mother is still devastated by the disappearance of her father, and just drifts, often leaving Penny up to her own devices. That’s the main plot of the book, but it is really the characters of the witches and modern day girls driving the book.

I keep saying it is slow paced, and it is, but it works in this book. There is a slow build up of tension, and you know something is coming, but what? The slow tension pays off in the last twenty or so percent of the book. It makes everything worth it once you get to that point. I was absolutely astounded at how much I loved the last 20% of the book.

I think the good writing really played into the awesome pacing because it had lots of atmosphere. This book felt surreal and very misty at some points which worked for the content of the book. It was atmospheric, it was as if it could actually be happening. Ernshaw created such vivid description all around, and I loved that. I was totally drawn in by her writing. I could picture this little town on the seaside, and the events that unfolded there two hundred years ago.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic book, and I am looking forward to the next book from her. This one had everything I could have wanted in an atmospheric read!

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