My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy / Magical Realism
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: November 5th, 2019
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. – synopsis from Goodreads
“Because I am more darkness than girl. More winter shadow than August sunlight.”
This is a hard one people. I picked up Winterwood and was excited to start it since I enjoyed Shea Ernshaw’s first book The Wicked Deep. The cover was so pretty and gave me all the feels of a perfect winter witchy read. Unfortunately, Winterwoods just left me wanting.
If I’m being honest, I don’t even know what to say about the plot. Was there one? It was all a bit dull and boring. The story felt so predictable. We could see it getting put together early on in the book. I was expecting something much more atmospheric instead I got a very low-key mystery that I didn’t remember signing up for. I don’t know, it just really wasn’t what I was expecting. I wanted it to be a lot more about the woods and felt it wasn’t connected enough to the story. Yes, the woods play a part in it, but I think I was expecting them to almost be a character in the book like Cabeswater in The Raven Boys, but they felt mostly like a setting to me.
I didn’t care for any of the characters if I’m being honest. It lacked the connection that as a reader you search and crave. That little something that makes you root and cheer for the protagonists. Our main characters, Nora & Oliver, were just so blah. The connection between them seemed to me like a badly written insta-love. There didn’t seem to be any chemistry there at all. I also think it didn’t need that romantic side. It could’ve just been a platonic friendship and it still would’ve worked.
If you like slow-burn story Winterwood might be for you. For me, the pace of the story was so slow. I never got the impression that we were moving forward. I think I would’ve liked it more as a novella or short story in an anthology.
Two things saved the book from being a DNF – Shea Ernshaw writing and the in-between chapters with spell recipes. Shea does paint beautiful imagery. The way she wrote about the trees when she did, really brought them to life. Winterwoods was too close to magical realism for me without the signature matter of fact writing and that little sprinkle of magic that makes the story come alive.
I was really hoping to love Winterwoods it just didn’t work for me. Will I continue to read books by Shea Ernshaw? Most definitely! I do hope that she continues to write stories about witches cause we all need more of those.