The title kind of sums up what these books have in common, no? There are other similarities, and definitely some differences, so let’s just dive in and review these March Magical, Mysterious, Maritime Manuscripts! (I took it too far, didn’t I? ?)
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
Published by Simon Pulse on March 6th 2018
Pages: 320

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.

So, this was an enjoyable book! (Also, quick second for some cover appreciation, yes? Look at it. I may need a finished copy, just saying.) Anyway, this book has quite a bit going for it, so we shall break it down by the pros and cons!

The Stuff I Liked:

  • The atmosphere is so on point. I mean, you think you’re going to be in a creepy small town set on the water, and wow are you ever. I absolutely felt the eeriness of this place, as well as the small town vibe.
  • I loved the focus on the history of the legend of the sisters. I’d totally read a book wholly about their backstory, honestly. They seemed badass, especially for their time. But the parts of their story we got were fabulous, so I am happy!
  • While the relationship was a *bit* quick for my liking, there was no denying that Penny and Bo had chemistry. And I liked some spoilery parts of their relationship, and I’ll leave it at that.
  • The plot was quite twisty, and even though I did figure some of them out ahead of time, it didn’t really bother me much. The story definitely kept me entertained and engaged. It was a good length, too- long enough to tell the whole story, but not overly long where I would get bored. It flowed nicely, also.

The Stuff I Didn’t: 

  • Some of the end felt a little… easy. Obviously I cannot speak more to this, but I was left feeling a little… unsure?
  • I would have liked a bit more familial interaction.  I know there were some reasons for this. One that I can talk about is how Penny’s mom is still grieving the disappearance of her dad. But I still think that a parent would be more worried about their kid gallivanting around an island where dudes are being murdered on the reg, but hey, maybe that’s just me. There’s also a spoilery reason, but I felt that it wasn’t necessary, and mom could have been more in the picture. Minor gripe.

Bottom Line: So incredibly atmospheric with a past and present-day story, this was a haunting tale with themes of life, loss, and love.

Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman
Published by Amulet Books on March 20th 2018
Pages: 336
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review

The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward... or chain them to the Indigo forever.

This is another book with some elements that were definitely hits, and some that weren’t. This one also deals with a young woman who is searching to uncover some answers about her town’s past (and her family’s past!) all while trying to protect her little sister and not become a “working girl”.

Some Things I Liked:

  • Marsden and her sister Wynn have such a lovely bond. Seriously, I am a sucker for a close sibling relationship, and I adored these two. But Marsden was honest about the toll that caring for Wynn sometimes took, and I liked that just as much. Plus, Wynn is adorable, and an uplifting character in an otherwise dark book.
  • The ship is really great. It’s no surprise that Marsden starts to get feelings for Jude, but I liked Jude a lot. Maybe more than Marsden actually. He just seemed like such a good dude, and he was missing his brother so much, and dealing with his own personal hell. I was just rooting for these two because frankly, they earned some happiness.
  • The mystery element worked well. While I wasn’t surprised at all the twists, there were definitely some things I didn’t see coming, and it was fun to play detective with Marsden!

Some Things That are Neutral That Are Worth Mentioning:

  • So, I didn’t like or dislike this, it is just part of the story that I felt the need to address.  The adults, especially Marsden’s mom, are kind of messes. Marsden’s mom is a prostitute, which fine, it’s her life. But when she tries to lure Mars into the business… yuck. It’s vile, honestly, because whose parents are trying to recruit them to whoredom? Plus, this girl is only sixteen and the brothel owner lady wanted her to start “working” too, which… wrong on so many levels.
  • Okay, this bugged me even though maybe it shouldn’t, but… the book is called Along the Indigo, but it talks basically non-stop about this “covert” that Marsden’s family owns and apparently makes people kill themselves. And the Indigo really only has one thing to do with the story so… maybe it should have been called something about “The Covert”? Again, this is just me. And it didn’t really have any bearing on my enjoyment of the book, but I must have questioned it 20 times while reading, so there you have it.

Some Things I Didn’t Love:

  • I didn’t realize this was set in the past until about halfway through. And that isn’t good- if a book is going to be set in the 1980s, I should feel and know it’s in the 80s, right? I was suspicious about why Mars didn’t have a cell phone and such, but she was quite poor and I figured she just didn’t have access. Later, there is the mention of a year and I finally knew. Later there is talk of looking up articles in the library microfiche, but had that stuff not been included, I might never have known.
  • It started out rather slowly. To the point where I was pretty bored, and contemplated DNFing for a minute or two, before I remembered how terrible I am at DNFing.

Bottom Line: Not without flaws, but definitely enjoyable- especially the second half!

Do you love books set on/near/in water as much as I do? What’s a great one you’ve read?

Posted March 9, 2018 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Dual, Review / 20 Comments

20 responses to “Dual Review: Magical, Mysterious, Maritime

  1. The Wicked Deep does sound delightfully eerie! Along the Indigo sounds pretty good too, although yeah the 80’s thing is weird. And Mars’ mom trying to lure her into the “business”- yeah that’s not cool. I’ve heard about bad moms but sheesh…

    Glad these were both pretty good though!

  2. Ooh I have the first one to read! I kind of feel bad that I haven’t read it yet. Story of my life.? The second one waaaay doesn’t appeal with the mum trying to recruit her daughter to that line of business. Like that’s a personal decision (hopefully) but 16 IS A CHILD. A LITTLE CHILD. OMG. (I suddenly feel old.?) Although I’m loving all the sibling mentions in here!! More books about siblings yessss.

  3. Oh, I cannot wait to read The Wicked Deep. Yes, the cover is fantastic, and I’m glad you thought the eerie town atmosphere stuff was well done because that’s what actually attracted me to it in the first place. xD

    … I actually never gave it a thought if I happen to read a lot of water-based books. o.0 But I guess some of the books I really enjoy HAVE been set around water or had water as a major theme. Huh. How odd.

  4. Sab Edwards

    gez I lived thru the 70’s and 80’s and I don’t think I could remember what we did and didn’t have back then LOL

  5. Ugh easy endings are the bane of my existence but I love how atmospheric The Wicked Deep sounds,and who can say no to a good plot twist.

    And yes, that cover is soo pretty! I haven’t seen it in real life yet!

  6. I loved The Wicked Deep. I was constantly suspicious and loved all the surprises Ernshaw gave us in the story. I know what you are talking about with the ending, but it still left me all emotional .

  7. I am soooo stoked to read this one! I love YA fantasies with great atmosphere and strong backstories. The ending’s going to make me wary, but for the most part, I think I’m going to love this! Awesome review, Shannon!

  8. Love these reviews Shannon! I honestly wasn’t looking forward to The Wicked Deep until I read your review and others – lots of great things I’m hearing about it! I might skip Along the Indigo, though, just because it seems really slow in the beginning and usually when books don’t attract me from the start, I tend to get bored easily. Nonetheless, I’m glad you ended up enjoying both!

  9. Why is it I am only hearing about The Wicked Deep the past week or so. I saw it on twitter way before I started reviews come in and it totally sounds like a cool book and one I’d enjoy! I am going to have to get me a copy. Along the Indigo sounds like one I can give a miss, though. I mean, I get not realising that it was set in the past at first but it sounds like it went on for a while before it all clicked into place and that lack of scene setting is weird. Also, the book sounds like it wouldn’t be my jam. Great reviews for both, though.

  10. I get that “no cellphone” thing a lot. Or if there’s no internet. There was one book (which was otherwise amazing!) where I only realized it’s the 90s because someone mentioned it by the end xD all the songs and everything, I just thought the kids were into retro 😀 and I was like… Well, hell, no mention of the internet. That’s odd xD

  11. Hooray for The Wicked Deep! I was pleasantly surprised by it — I was expecting something lighter and more witchy, but I ended up living for the moody atmosphere and intense revenge plot. I figured out some of the twists early on too, but like you I wasn’t bothered by it. Too bad the ending was such a cop-out, though!

    Based on your review, I’ll be passing on Along the Indigo. Not really my cup of tea!

  12. I don’t know why I keep getting To Kill A Kingdom and The Wicked Deep mixed up, but I do all the time! I do like the sound of The Wicked Deep though – I might even be able to overlook the alarmingly quick romance. It’s a plus that they do have chemistry though! I love books which involve water too. Maybe not as much as you do, but I do enjoy it 🙂

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