Summary (from the publisher): 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
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
During the latter half of the fall season and beginning of winter, my bookish soul especially craves books whose atmosphere matches the weather – and makes for the perfect blanket and tea companion. Enter Shea Ernshaw’s recent release, Winterwood. The book follows Nora Walker, whose family is rumored to be composed of witches, when she finds Oliver stranded in the woods after a bad snow storm. Nora is set to determine what led to Oliver being lost and her feelings for this lost boy.
Ordinarily, I feel like Winterwood is the type of book that I wouldn’t like. I often have a love-hate relationship with spooky books set in the woods (it’s a trope, okay?) , but I fell in love with Winterwood. Told primarily from Nora’s perspective, with a few chapters from Oliver’s perspective, I really loved Shea Ernshaw’s writing style. There was such a nice balance between the plot and action, but also Nora’s looking back on her family’s past and the nature setting in general.
My favorite part of the book was learning more about Nora’s family and their magical history. Nora is both comforted and haunted by memories of her grandmother, who encouraged Nora to understand her family history. On the other hand, Nora’s mother wishes that her daughter would leave their secrets behind. I could never put the book down when I came to one of the many excerpts from the Walker family spell book. I found the spells to be so clever in how they connected to the described witch’s power, but I also wonder if Shea Ernshaw tested out any! Nora is the only witch in her family whose nightshade, or power, has not come to light just yet. I loved her connection to the woods, the Wicker Woods, and nature overall. I loved learning about the lost items that pop up in the woods.
I’ll admit that the plot to the Winterwood was somewhat predictable. I correctly guessed Oliver’s role in his disappearance pretty early on in the story, but honestly, Shea Ernshaw’s writing and the other elements of the book made it up for it. I didn’t mind Oliver and Nora’s relationship, but as you might be able to tell from above, I was definitely the most interested in the witch aspect of the story. I also didn’t mind that this book was on the slow burn side because there are just so many elements to explore: Oliver and Nora’s relationship, Nora’s magic, the mystery surrounding Oliver’s reappearance and the death of one of his classmates, and Nora’s relationship with her own classmates and the boys camp. In addition, I didn’t mind Oliver and Nora’s relationship, but I really think Nora is a strong enough character that she didn’t need the motivation from their relationship to come into her own.
Overall, Winterwood is an atmospheric and mysterious read perfect for any cozy day this autumn and winter. Shea Ernshaw mentioned on Goodreads that she is hoping to write another story within the Winterwood universe at some point.
This review is based on an advance reader’s copy. By no means did receiving this book affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is Winterwood on your TBR? Have you read The Wicked Deep? Share in the comments!