By: Shea Ernshaw
Published: November 5th, 2019
By: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA | Fantasy | Magic | Romance
Buy it: Book Depository
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.
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.
| Goodreads |
“She’s not weak, she’s not frail or breakable or scared of much. She is the storm that tears away roofs and knocks over trees.”
I loved this book SO much, but this time it was no surprise because I’m discovering that the author really resonates with me and with my personal tastes in terms of stories and writing style. I’m happy to have read it and I cannot wait to continue reading all her future works. Winterwood is an absolutely atmospheric and poetic book that transports us 100% within it and transmits us a hundred feelings as we read it. I can see that it’s not perfect, it has its flaws, which I’ll mention below, but for me personally, it was very beautiful and almost perfect, I enjoyed every second of it.
In this story, we follow Nora Walker, a girl who comes from a magical family lineage where all the women in her family have been powerful witches who handled different types of skills. Walker women have always had a special connection with the forests surrounding the city of Fir Haven, which people murmur that’s hunted and it’s not so far from reality. Only Nora really knows the danger of going into the forest but one-day gathering objects that magically appear there, Nora finds a boy, Oliver, who despite the cruel snowstorm that’s ravaging the place, has survived. He’s the same boy who disappeared from the Wayward Boys camp a few weeks ago, and now he has returned without memory of what happened to him. Nora begins to notice an unusual movement of the forest in presence of Oliver and realizes that she has no choice but to discover what really happened to him, how he survived almost 2 weeks alone and how he ended up there in the first place. But Oliver has his own secrets, secrets he’ll try to bury in his memory because he wasn’t the only boy who disappeared that night.
There’s something very special about this book, I loved the plot because it’s super atmospheric and although it’s a fairly simple mystery, it has a very good outcome that will surely leave you thinking. I think the author’s intention was to tell this story in the form of a fairy tale but darker, and it shows a lot, I adored how it’s built to confuse the reader and that we can go putting together the puzzle as we read it. I love that she focuses on this enchanted woods and that there’s this mystery around it, and I LOVED witches theme and bloodlines of women with special abilities or marks on them, that’s super magical and unique. The story is told from two points of view, Nora’s and Oliver’s and I enjoyed both, but especially Oliver because he’s a mysterious character so it’s very entertaining to follow his pov. The book also has small stories from a magic book that Nora now owns, where tells us the lives of each Walker woman over time. We know a little more about this magical lineage and their abilities, from birth to death, but very briefly without being heavy at all. This gives the book a very special vibe, in my opinion.
The writing style is probably one of my favorites ever, she really writes so atmospheric and poetically that I just LOVED it. I think it really has to resonate with you, though, because it’s a bit whimsical style at times and also has absolutely poetic phrases and dialogues, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I understand that but for me, it’s absolutely perfect and I’m sure I’ll be reading anything this author writes. The Wicked Deep is one of my favorite books and this one was INCREDIBLE, so obviously I feel that her style resonates a lot with me and with the way I enjoy reading my stories, just as I love the interactions between the characters, that mystery vibe and suspense that always surround the story and those plot twists, although they can be predictable, are of my favorites.
I could talk about the setting where the story takes place forever because it’s my favorite aspect. I’ve been recommended to read this book in winter because it takes place during this time and it’s 100% atmospheric, I already said that like a thousand times lol, so I also think it would be a good idea to read it during cold weather, with a coffee nearby and a blanket, that would be more than perfect. Even so, I couldn’t wait and I read it in summer (YAY me) lol. The book takes shape in an inhospitable place quite far from the town itself, where people have cabins to vacation in summer season, but nobody is there in winter since the weather is quite raw and cruel at that time, no one but Nora who lives with her dog Fin and the boys who are in the camp, which is a place where their parents send them for their bad behavior as a last resort to improve. Just during the story, it attacks this huge snowstorm that makes it impossible to enter or leave the place, so only a few are isolated there. So you can imagine that it’s a very cruel atmosphere with a lot of cold, cabins everywhere and a lake that divides the Boys’ Camp to Nora’s cabin.
I want to talk only a little about the romance, since it wasn’t my favorite aspect, in fact, it was one of the weakest aspects in my opinion. I couldn’t believe that Nora could get to feel so much for a boy that I hardly knew, they don’t exchange many words in the first half of the book and Oliver disappears and appears constantly so the interactions between them are really short before it begins to happen something else between them, you know? so I don’t understand why that love born between them and all those feelings, I mean … where do they come from? Although towards the ending things take shape after a great revelation and you begin to understand this aspect a little more, even so at the beginning it’s something weird because I don’t have the whole information. It’s something that still doesn’t bother me too much to not enjoy the story itself and the ending is quite solid, and one of my favorite aspects. On the other hand, I also liked how the meaning of love in the Walker family is explained and how the women have never been able to maintain a lasting relationship.
“Because I am more darkness than girl. More winter shadow than August sunlight.”
The characters are very well created, I especially like that their personalities are well marked and although the book is short, I notice some growth, especially in Nora. Speaking of Nora she’s a good main character, kind of insecure, though, for my taste, I understand the facts that led her to feel that way and act in a certain way with others, because she has suffered a lot of bullying from her classmates and of basically everyone who knows the local legends that say that she’s a witch and therefore that she’s rare and all that. So, therefore, she’s very insecure and doubts a lot about each person she knows but also she doubts a lot about herself because being a Walker woman should be able of many things, but her ability hasn’t awakened in her yet, so she feels useless and afraid of don’t achieve the expectations her lineage expects. .Even so, she grows a lot towards the ending and goes through many borderline situations that will make her rethink the meaning of her last name and who she really wants to be I adored her relationship with her grandmother because even though we don’t see much of it because her grandmother has already passed away, Nora remembers her with a lot of love and such a pure and sweet feeling, that touched my heart. We see as well, her conflict relationship with her mother & of course Fin, the dog that’s the best thing in life, I LOVE animals in books. Then we have Oliver and about him, I felt many different emotions throughout the story, he’s an enigmatic character of which you’ll not know 100% until the ending, due to the main revelation that has to do with himself and with the night of his disappearance. Then we have more characters like the man who has always lived there and takes care of Nora in some way. We have Susy, a character who comes to give a new side to the image of a popular girl which, I appreciate & a group of boys from the camp for Wayward Boys, which are bound to the disappearances. All these characters have their important moment in the plot, so I don’t want to talk that much about their stories because could be a spoiler.
I also want to mention that the woods are like another main character of this book and even though the guys aren’t most of the story in that place, it’s mentioned and we begin to understand a little the meaning it has for the Walker women and what really what happens within them. Magic as such isn’t a main element, yet it’s touched, but not used as such, at least not until near the ending. I think we live this aspect more in the mini-stories of each Walker woman, which I loved.
I think that the last 100 pages had a great impact for me, even though I managed to guess a couple of revelations, I ended up surprising and it becomes something unexpected which I adored, and I really like the way in which the author has decided to give us these revelations, they’re VERY good scenes, with a lot of tension, confusion, and doubts, you literally feel it in your body, I was SO tense all the time lol. That ending was my cup of tea, no doubt. The author chose one of my favorite twists, so I enjoyed it a lot.
Finally, I want to recommend it a lot if you like magical stories about witches and dark and evil woods. But also if you like mystery and suspense stories because this book in addition to its fascinating fantasy aspects makes a great mystery. Also if you enjoy plots with different writing styles, this is one of them, the author writes poetically and atmospherically, so surely it’s an aspect that you’ll love as much as I did. It’s a super easy to read story, but at the same time significant, it’s about family, about love and about finding out what you want to do with your life even when your destiny seems to be marked. LOVED IT!! an absolutely charming book that I’ll be surely re-reading.