Book Reviews

Winterwood // Be Careful of the Wicker Woods


Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Deluxe edition with special embellishments on first printing only.

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.

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


I really wanted to love this book. The cover is captivating, the sprayed edges were so beautiful. But for the size of this book, it was extremely slow.

The story follows the MC Nora who lives in a cabin outside a camp for wayward boys. It is so secluded in the mountains that if there happens to be a snow storm, they are all stuck up there until the snow melts. Nora does fit in school. She knows what people say about her, calling her horrible names, making up horrible stories, because she is a witch. But apart from basic kitchen witchery, she seems to not believe she has any magic like that of her dear grandmother whom passed recently. On a full moon night, one can go into the Wicker Woods while the trees sleep and find trinkets that have been lost throughout the woods. Nora likes to collect these lost items. But one night, the night after a massive snow storm and everyone is stuck up in the mountains, she stumbles across a boy, just after she heard rumors of a boy from the wayward camp going missing-presumed dead. Oliver can’t remember how he got in the woods, but he’s clearly not dead. Nora soon discovers it’s not Oliver that was presumed dead, but a boy named Max. And she suspects Oliver is behind his death when she finds Max’s pocket watch in his coat pocket.

So the plot sounds great. A little mystery with a boy who has no memory, and a girl who you know will find her magical abilities at some point in the book to solve the plot. The woods have a mind of their own, so you think they will play a big plot. Not really. I thought their significance was underrated when they truly had so much potential. Nora just wasn’t a relateable character with the consistent dumb choices she made. And it took until the last like 15 pages for Nora to discover she has magic, the ability to bend time, to go back and fix something. Which she does.


Nora finds Max hidden in a cabin owned by a family that only comes there in the summer. He is shocked to discover Oliver is alive because he remembers Oliver drowning…boom this was seriously the only redeeming part of the book, the plot twist! Oliver drowned in the lake courtesy of Max and their cabin mates. Max hid in the cabin, hoping to avoid cops that would come snooping around. Nora is torn as she puts the pieces together. Just when she confronts the cabin mates (there’s too many names here to list), they set the forest on fire, the forest goes crazy and lets the fire blaze the land, the camp, the cabins. Nora is prepared to die to try to save the forest from ruining all. She drowns herself in the lake (strange) hoping her sacrifice will calm the forest. But then she wakes up, time is turned back, and she is in her house before the snow storm began, just as the boys from Oliver’s cabin are in the woods, trying to convince Oliver to go out onto the iced-over lake and spin in a circle, the reason why he drowned. She runs to them, convinces Oliver not to go out, and boom all is righted. Oh and the first boy she had a crush on she now marries.

The characters are just completely unrelateable, even though I can totally relate to the bullying she’s experienced over the years, everything else about her just irks me. This story had great potential! I was so excited for the turn it was taking. But it stays at a slow pace. I would recommend this for Middle school honestly if it wasn’t for the large amount of swearing or these teens drinking a lot in the forest.


Did you read Winterwood? What did you think?

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