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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.

323 pages, Hardcover

First published November 5, 2019

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About the author

Shea Ernshaw

7 books4,278 followers

Shea Ernshaw is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Indie Bestselling author of the YA books: THE WICKED DEEP, WINTERWOOD, A WILDERNESS OF STARS, and LONG LIVE THE PUMPKIN QUEEN. Her debut adult fiction novel, A HISTORY OF WILD PLACES, was an Indie Next Pick and a Book of the Month selection. She is also the winner of the Oregon Book Award.
She often writes late, late, late into the night, enjoys dark woods, scary stories and moonlight on lakes.

You can connect with her here:

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5 stars
5,838 (28%)
4 stars
7,968 (38%)
3 stars
5,056 (24%)
2 stars
1,399 (6%)
1 star
313 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,148 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,066 reviews38.1k followers
January 13, 2023
My teeth are tattering, carrying three different blankets on my shoulders and turning myself into human burrito, still trembling, shaking, feeling the cold in my body and in my soul at the same time after reading this so dark, intense, thrilling, nerve bending, fascinatingly told witch a.k.a Walker a.k.a Moon Girl and lonely, abandoned, sad, sweet green eyed boy’s heart wrenching, bleak, unique love story!

Look at this dark, gorgeous cover which makes you want to lose yourself into those haunted woods has its own living soul to punish the people who don’t respect its existence.

I enjoyed the author’s world building, reminding me of Alice Hoffman’s style magical touch, characters’ development and of course the story’s conclusion. I could easily give it five stars but the mysterious effect and big revelation were not surprise for me. It was so obvious from the beginning and when the big secret came out at the final, I could only say “hmm”! That’s it! Of course the grandiose ending is also predictable for me because of the characters’ past dialogues gave you much hint to understand what was gonna happen next.

So I gave 3.5 stars which will eventually rounded up to four because it was impossible not to love introverted, lonely, sad, strong Nora who truly finds her soul mate at the mortal world. Oliver stole my heart from the beginning of the book as soon as he’s found by Nora (literally and lyrically they both found each other and the magic started to fight against the darkness of the woods and the camp’s abandoned teenagers)

Once upon a time a girl finds a boy lost boy in the woods. She touches his soul and warms him, helping to find what was he looking for and in the meantime she finds out what her real life purpose is. But their encounter will bring out the danger, curse and death into their lives!

Will they survive from the danger and protect themselves from the moth following them as a sign of “death” in everywhere? Will Nora’s inherited powers help them to save themselves?

There is dead boy out there… And a killer is walking around the woods. The storm blizzard threatens their lives. They are trapped. Nowhere to go… Tick, tick, thud…

Just because this horrifying freezing feeling the devil genius author gave me, I consumed gallons of hot chocolate (my dear Chardonnay stocks remained their position at the freezer.) but thankfully I mixed my chocolate with cognac (just warm myself up) and I’m totally fine and dream to be a walker when I’m growing up. (Okay forgot the last part! Everybody knows I’m a witch!)

I cannot wait to read more works of this author. I already added “Wicked Deep” at my TBR( I’m so scared that one day it will collapse and I will be squeezed under it.) list! Just read this book for its amazing dark, scary, effectively spooky atmosphere and for its amazing, likable, adorable characters. It’s capturing, riveting, emotional page turner!

I'm adding my photo while I'm devouring some pages before purchasing and yes I'm wearing sunglasses because I'm suffering from terrible hangover (don't consume Chardonnay with empty stomach when your husband eats entire takeout leftovers! Shame on him!)
Profile Image for jessica.
2,477 reviews29.7k followers
November 8, 2019
wow. this story is hauntingly gorgeous, enchantingly mysterious, and supernaturally lovely. this is a magical slow-burn that will have you believing in the inexplicable and admiring the unexpected. i think this book has cast its own spell on me because i honestly cant get over how bewitching the connection between nora and oliver is.

there are some aspects of the story i found to be predicable, but the predicability comes from a place of feeling like i cleverly picked up on the authors subtle hints, not because the author was being obvious. and that is definitely because of the writing. the writing is exquisite and so atmospherically perfect. it lends the perfect tone and mood for the entire book.

this is such a wonderful sophomore novel and i cant wait to read the next witchy story SE conjures!

4 stars
Profile Image for Victoria Resco.
Author 4 books22.4k followers
June 3, 2021
Esto fue increíble. Esto fue romance y misterio y magia en su más perfecto equilibrio. Shea Ernshaw tiene un don con las palabras y crea en este libro un aura sombría en la que se confunden verdades, mentiras y objetos perdidos.

Un comienzo intrigante y un final que te llena los ojos de agua. Este libro es una lectura obligatoria🐧💕
Profile Image for Chelsea *Slowly Catching Up* Humphrey.
1,388 reviews77.2k followers
August 14, 2019
Uff. I really wanted to give this one a higher rating, because the writing is just so beautiful and atmospheric, but the predictability of the plot and the gaping holes in character development left me wanting more. I have heard that the final copy will be different from the ARC I received, and I'm very excited to see what changes are made. It's quite clear that the author is immensely talented, and I enjoyed the dark, oppressive setting so much that I've grabbed her first book from the library to read as well. Those looking for a gothic, witchy book this fall should check out WInterwood.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Samantha.
401 reviews16.6k followers
February 29, 2020
2.5 stars - wonderfully atmospheric and a quick read, but with a twist you can see from a mile away, an overly slow plot, and instalove.
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,012 reviews97 followers
July 7, 2020
Nora Walker is descended from witches. She was told by her family that each of them have their own nightshade, a magical skill, but Nora hasn’t found hers yet; in fact, Nora isn’t even sure of herself anymore. She questions if she has the strength of her ancestors. It isn't always easy living alone with only her mom and wolf, Fin. Nora wonders what her life would be like if she were different and actually had friends.

There’s a boy’s camp nearby, and word has it that one of them has gone missing. When Nora stumbles upon a boy named Oliver in the woods, she’s determined to get to the bottom of what actually happened. She’s puzzled with how Oliver actually survived for two weeks in the desolate woods. Will Nora finally discover herself and get to the bottom of this mystery?

A boy who ran away or got lost or simply vanished like the low morning fog that rises up from the lake during autumn rainstorms. Who crept from his bunk inside one of the camp cabins and never returned. A victim of the winter cold. Of madness or desperation. Of these mountains that have a way of getting inside your head—playing tricks on those who dare to walk among the pines long after the sun has set.

This book is incredibly atmospheric. I was literally captivated with the prose which is full of beautiful descriptions and intense imagery. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for lately, and I was easily transported to this magical, wintery woodland. Unfortunately, there were aspects of this story I wished were different, like how it was a bit repetitive, making it feel super drawn out. Not only that, the characters weren’t fleshed out well; there was so much more I wanted to know about them all. The story even fell a little flat for me, but even so, I still enjoyed Winterwood and found it unique. It was nice that the author put in just the right amount of romance to my liking as well.

A friend who read this book mentioned its predictability. That wasn’t an issue for me; in fact, I didn’t see the twisty end coming at all. She also felt that there was insta-love involved, but I had to disagree. This connection felt natural, especially given that Nora is primarily alone—lacking much human interaction or closeness outside of her home.

I’m torn on my rating, but I think I’ll go with 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. I’m hoping to read The Wicked Deep soon, and I’ll gladly pick up anything Shea Ernshaw writes.
Profile Image for Andrea Ashwood.
113 reviews50 followers
July 23, 2020
Maybe I haven't been in my best mood to reading this book. 😅

The beginning was great, I was caught up, but I don't know if it was the book or my state of mind that I started to leave it and I have been reading it gradually until I've finally finished it. I noticed that the author repeat things too many times as if she had to make it clear that we had to focus on that.
And then the two supposed plot twist are reduced to a deduction that you guess at almost 100 pages and is revealed in the last 50 as if it were a great revelation. 😶

I loved The Wicked Deep, and although this wasn't one of my best readings, I plan to continue reading this author. ❤

Review coming soon...
Profile Image for Cassie.
326 reviews63 followers
October 4, 2019
This book is simply beautiful.

It is a slow burn fairy tale-esque sort of story and I loved it. Nora and Oliver’s story is so, so, so lovely. The setting is rich in atmosphere and is magnificent. The writing is exquisite and lyrical. I loved this story so much.

Expect this story to be slow, but it will absolutely tug at your heart, burrow deep into your soul, and stay there for many moons to come.

I was greedy and requested it from Netgalley first and then Edelweiss. They both came through and provided me with a digital ARC. So, many thanks to them and the publishers!
Profile Image for Arini ~ Miss Casually Reading.
666 reviews1,499 followers
January 8, 2020

this was such a perfect winter read. i was truly in awe with how hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric the writing was, but everything else just fell nothing short of dull. there were also quite a number of repetition of information and sayings which detracted me from the story. i think the young adult me wouldve appreciated this book more than the new adult me.

the characters lacked some depths. if anything i was more enraptured by the wicker woods itself than any of the characters. nora and oliver were okay for the most part, but the supporting casts felt too one dimensional. i liked how brave and proud nora was with her witch heritage, but sometimes she frustrated me when she wouldnt stand up for herself in front of her bullies.

the mystery was subtly pretty straightforward which did little to elevate the witchy snowy scary vibes it had going on. the romance was bland. i cant say i felt the chemistry radiating off the pages. the ending was actually really nice. the romantic in me loved it, but the practical in me felt a little cheated. i know this is a fantasy book, but not so many of us get to have a do-over day in their lives.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
670 reviews1,026 followers
February 17, 2022
Not quite what I was expecting, which is sad 😞

Nora is a Walker, a member of a family who have always lived on the edge of the woods. Even in the winter when others leave to go to warmer places.
Most people stay away from her, believing her to be a witch.

When she finds a boy in the forest on the night of a full moon, alive despite being missing for 2 weeks, she knows the woods are up to something.

I loved the premise, and the magical elements. I just didn’t love the insta-love, as usual. I also don’t like

Still a big fan of Shea Ernshaw and I will definitely still read more by her.
November 16, 2019
I absolutely loved The Wicked Deep, so I have been anxiously waiting for Winterwood... Unfortunately, it was a disappointment. The book dragged on, there was a lot of repetition, the characters were all one dimensional, and I figured out where the story was going within the first few chapters.

I do think the author is a talented writer, and the story had a lot of potential, but it just didn't work. 2 stars.
Profile Image for Virginie Roy.
Author 1 book585 followers
March 5, 2021
First of all, let me say that I absolutely loved The Wicked Deep. That explains why I'm heartbroken to write this review.

Shea Ernshaw is a fabulous author. Her writing is poetic and the setting of her stories is perfectly atmospheric.

Now, about the plot of Winterwood... After a strong first chapter, the story simply dragged. It was so repetitive! Also, I guessed the big twist in the first pages. Sometimes, it doesn't change my appreciation of the book but, in this case, since there was nothing else going on, I was definitely bored.

I'm going to stop my review now. Please consider the 4 and 5-star reviews before deciding if this book is worth being on your TBR or not!
October 30, 2021
Polarthon 2020 🌲❄ Prompt: Cold Word

Finally, FINALLY done. Now I’ve gathered my thoughts 💭 Time to get on with it

I am finally going to attempt to review this. Hang on to your butts for a highly disappointed reader's opinion. It gets 1 highly over-generous star for the brief bit of haunted woods and the cool witchy ancestors

EDIT: Be warned!! This is a highly scathing review! Moreso than I'd intended it to be. #SorryNotSorry

Shea Ernshaw's debut Wicked Deep was a bit slow for me, but I was in a major reading slump that whole year. Even so, I did enjoy her debut. So based on that, and the DIVINE covers the publishers assign her books, I had high hopes of loving this one. I mean it's about a creepy ass forest!!

The blurb makes it sound so good! But don't be fooled like I was -_- I mean there IS an amazing, whimsically dark bit about the forest in the beginning, and some cool witchy lore sprinkled throughout. But over all, the essence of this book is friggin "insta-love" wrapped in a murder mystery amidst a blizzard setting. WE HARDLY GET ANYTHING FROM THE WICKER WOOD!!! My disappointment was on the grandest scale as I slogged hopelessly thru the boring insta-love-possibly-with-a-murderer middle. I honestly couldn't care less about the "murder" or the "mystery" or the "where the hell did that come from?!" lovey-dovey drivel. I just wanted the bloody flaming haunted forest of lost shit that you can only enter on a full moon or die!!! Where the bloody hell was that creepy ass forest excellence I was promised?! No where. That's what. >_<

Not even at the end I just. didn't. care. *slumps in defeat*

While in the beginning Ernshaw's unique descriptions were really atmospheric, adding to the creepy woodsy vibes while we were actually seeing the woods , once we got to the "main" story and the "plot" petered out, the over abundance of overt description was then just a tedious brainfuck to wade through just to find out "who dunnit", which I didn't even care about! It should've been a quick read since it's not an overly long book, but this was a total slog-fest and I almost DNFed it on more than one occasion. And I know, I know, why didn't I? I'm stubborn and I HAD to know if we got any more haunted woodsy goodness, and I thought surely it would get better! I was wrong on both counts.

Nothing happened after the first quarter mark. The same bloody dialogue (almost word for word) just gets set on repeat for the remainder of the "story," meanwhile I was pounding my head in disbelief at how nothingness this book was. Where was the suspense? Where was proper dialogue to build interest in the supposed mystery?? No where to be found. There were no new plot developments to move the mystery along. Just the same ole dialogue spewed at us by some seriously stupid boys.

Everything in this is tedious and repetitious and redundant. And there's no logic to be found. The MC Nora would get up before the sun, go outside for a walk for like nothing more than an hour, but by the time she gets back to the house the sun was setting. There's so many of these nonsensical time lapses that it's like every day is on fast-forward cause the author knows she has no plot to move the story along. And on top of the funky time lapses, there's absolutely no normal daily routines to even make this story feel realistic. There's no meals, no gathering of firewood, no laundry or dishes, or even bathing, and really no sleeping to speak of. It's just about the girl getting up at dawn, having a walk in the snow wondering about the boy she found and then it's night again. Repeat 42 more times.

To continue the "no logic" theme, the girl acts like she's the village police and just because she's descended from witches it's her duty to butt her nose into a murder-mystery. Like really? She's one girl against who knows what or how many?? How does she think that is safe??? Especially since the power is down from the blizzard so no actual cops can be called out should anything further happen?? Besides the fact that at the very beginning she comes across a bone moth, which is an omen of death. Most people would try to be very, very careful after that. But not this girl!

When she begins to find out who the suspects are (god it's so obvious) she should try to just fly under the radar and wait for the police. Instead she gets all up in their business like she has a death wish of her own, and pretty much just keeps pissing them off. How dumb is that? I mean she's practically screaming "kill me! kill me now!! I double-dare you!!" And when that doesn't work she goes out late late at night, when every sane person is asleep, and stands out on the thin ice of the lake for really silly reasons. Like let's see if the ice will break and the lake will actually kill me since the murderers won't do it for me. *heavy eye roll while pounding head on keyboard* Like I swear this dumb girl has a serious obsession with trying to get herself killed.

The insta-love was just so over the top unreal I....just....couldn't....was choking...with disbelief. She finds him in the haunted wood at the start. And it's pretty much infatuation from then on, with constant inner monologues by Nora of how her witchy family is so unlucky in love (since she's afraid he's a murderer but she loves him anyway). Like omg just STOP! And that's the entirety of the development of that "relationship." She found him in a forest, suspected him of murder and fell in love. Pure, retarded slop. I think this is the worst I've read yet.

**Let's rehash all the issues so far real fast! 1) hardly any forest to speak of when THAT'S what the book is supposed to be about; 2) insta-love from the get go with a possible murderer; 3) no realistic daily human routines to make the story feel authentic; 4) constant repetitious dialogue (word for word) is the only attempt to move the "mystery" along; 5) nonsensical time lapses like each day blurs by in an hour; 6) no actual mystery to be found anywhere** Isn't this unbelievable?? Cause there's still more.

At one point the MC gets herself locked in a second story room and loses her shit so completely I couldn't roll my eyes hard enough. She FINALLY realizes there's a window in the room, but deems she can't get out cause she'll break her legs with the fall. .... Really?....there was only a blizzard days ago....it's only been continually snowing EVERY FRIGGIN DAY SINCE!!! This little creampuff is trying to make me believe there isn't enough damn snow drifted against the house to cushion her wee little butt??? Her concern should be SUFFOCATION IN AN EFFING SNOWDRIFT!

We also have to endure her endlessly going on about her witchy family, but how she's not a real witch herself cause she has no night-shade. Repeat 5000 more times throughout the book.

Then there's also just really weird phrases that make no sense throughout, like the one that stands out the most "her heart jumped into her nose".....huh?? I have never read such ridiculous things. Hearts don't leap into noses, honey. It's throats they leap into, or pound in chests, or blood pulsing in ears. Nothing happens to noses, except maybe to itch or run.

The girl is too stupid to live, I swear. And the "villains" are a bunch of idiots dumber than a flaming bag of shit. For example "[boy's name] won't drown as long as he knows how to swim". Umm, in the summer that is true. But this is a frozen lake in winter. With a blizzard. It's called hypothermia dipshit. Between the lot of them they might have one brain cell. I groaned every time they were on the page, which was far too often.

So to wrap this rant up, the characters were all just too dumb to live, the "love" was fake, there was no sense to be found anywhere - even in the passing of time, there was no mystery, there was no real awesome scenes within the forest. It's just a very half-baked story that sounded good in theory about a haunted wood and a family of witches. If you want creepy woodsy stories you'll have to look elsewhere since this one is a HUGE disappointment.
Profile Image for Mara YA Mood Reader.
332 reviews262 followers
December 14, 2019
I kiss a boy who’s been to the farthest, deepest edge of the Wicker Woods and returned, who tastes like the violent winds that settle over the lake in winter. A boy who is more forest than flesh

What would you do if you found a missing boy in the woods? Snowed in, cold, left to fend for yourself, outcasted and so alone? And you found something that could be yours.

Finders keepers

My lost item found in the woods. Who is now more forest than boy

Nora is a lonely, isolated girl who lives in a lonely, isolated place that is only a lake, a forest and a few cabins. It’s only occupants in winter are herself, Mr. Perkins, an old man who is too stubborn to leave, and the boys across the lake at Jackjaw Camp for Wayward Boys.
And snow. So much snow that the only road is blotted out in deep depths of white.

The night snow sailed down from the mountains and howled against the eaves of the old house as if through gritted teeth—cruel and baleful and full of bad omens not to be ignored. Winter arrived in a single night

It’s a different type of cold. It’s the coldest cold. And with the power lost in the storm, it’s also the darkest dark. And a boy from the camp has gone missing.

Nora hears the shouts from across the lake, an indistinct name being called as the inhabitants of Jackjaw Camp comb the area in the blur of ever-falling snow.

A winter witch, a forest girl, a girl with madness in her veins
But it’s Nora who finds the boy deep in the Wicker Woods.
Nora who is whispered to be a witch. Who hales from a long line of witches. The Walkers. An old, old line of female descendants. Of witches.

I like the quiet. The cold, unending silence. But it’s more than that. I belong here. Every Walker for generations has lived in these woods

Winterwood is so beautifully written it’s more poetry than prose. It reminded me of Stiefvater, it reminded me of April Genevieve Tucholke’s Wink Poppy Midnight and
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

And I was surprised and disappointed, initially, to find that it is in a dual pov between Nora and Oliver. I don’t care for dual point of views. But this one was done very well, and I never found myself confused on whose POV chapter I was reading (which happens to me often). Oliver’s pov chapters are short and far between, I felt they were unnecessary. But I still enjoyed it.

A cold wind slides out from the entrance, smelling like the darkest dark, like wet rocks and soil that have never felt sunlight, like the place where monsters sleep. Not imaginary ones, but ones that hunt and slink and creep. Ones that stare out at us, hoping we’ll step inside. Hoping we’re dumb enough

The plot is mellow but envelopes you in a cold, eerie and wintry aesthetic. I felt so, so cold as I read into these December nights. I felt every icy blast, every little flurry that fluttered down to melt on Nora’s lips, to coat her lashes. My fingers felt stiff, burning with cold, my toes numb as Nora trudged through snow drifts, and I warmed and thawed when she settled in beside the fire,
sludgy boots prints across the floor, cheeks red and stinging, eyes watering as they blinked away the cold.

Shea Ernshaw is a masterful storyteller. Even though I had my inklings and suspicions, and got frustrated and annoyed at times and started to feel twinges of disappointment at times, the delivery and the weaving of the story still brought me suspense and surprise that by the end my fingers hurt from gripping the pages so tightly.

I’ll be coming back for you Shea.
Profile Image for Beatriz.
817 reviews697 followers
January 12, 2021
Una novela muy intimista y, por lo mismo, algo lenta. La autora se preocupa mucho más en ponernos en la piel de los personajes principales (lo que logra maravillosamente), más que en avanzar en la trama, la que va desgranando con cuenta gotas. Una trama, además, con un misterio demasiado previsible.

La narración está centrada fundamentalmente en Nora Walker, una joven que desciende de un linaje de brujas, unidas irremisiblemente a un bosque maldito. Sin embargo, el gran peso de Nora es no ser como sus antepasados, no tener su propia habilidad o “sombra nocturna”, la que, por supuesto, descubrirá hacia el final de la novela para torcerle la mano al destino. En una forma muy lograda, la autora da vuelta el tono melancólico que me acompañó durante toda la lectura, a uno muy esperanzador, sintiendo a una Nora completa y sin ese vacío que siempre la acompañaba.

Un final precioso y muy emotivo; de esos que te hacen cerrar el libro con un suspiro de satisfacción.

Reto #22 PopSugar 2021: Un libro ambientado, en su mayoría o totalmente, al aire libre
Profile Image for Coos Burton.
742 reviews1,263 followers
December 29, 2020
Sostengo que podría leer a esta autora siempre, me encantan los tópicos que maneja. La fantasía tan pura y oscura en la prosa, la belleza estética que maneja, las historias que se asemejan a cuentos de hadas más retorcidos. Aunque el final me resultó predecible, lo disfruté inmensamente.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,204 reviews267 followers
December 20, 2019
Winterwood really captures the feeling of late 2000s YA, where insta-love was everywhere and every protagonist seemed to spend a whole book whining about how hard their life was. Thw Walker women are incredible witches, gothic and mysterious with unusual abilities, able to charm bees, cry lakes and whisper to spiders. Unfortunately we get saddled with Nora, who is bloody annoying.

The story is vaguely (very vaguely) similar to Beware The Wild, a 5 star read where people go missing in a small town with a creepy swamp, it has the same gothic vibes and mystery but this book didn't really seem to go anywhere. I guessed the big reveal a hundred pages in so had to sit around waiting to confirmed right for another 200 pages.

Nora and Oliver are... well I can't call them a good couple when they fall into the insta-love category. Again with the late 2000s tropes it very much feels like Nora Might Just Die Of A Broken Heart if she loses the boy she found having a nap in the woods a couple of hours ago. Get your shit together girl.

What was going on with Nora's mother during this book? She never made an appearance. Nora talked about her constantly and yeah she was on holiday or something but it was so weird that a character that was spoken about throughout the whole book never once made an appearance in the final chapters.

The ending was a complete cop out, come on. It was like the author had written it a different way, told that was too depressing and had to scramble to edit a nicer ending in later. I didn't like the ending at all, it was far too neatly packaged.
Profile Image for Pine tree leaf stick.
181 reviews303 followers
July 26, 2020
Nope Nope Nope.

I have several complaints. I thought the ending would put my rating up a star but this book did a nice job of ruining that with more insta-love nonsense. I'm not going to bother with hiding spoilers so if you actually care about spoilers for this book, don't read this.

My complaints
1. Insta love
2. The constant metaphors
3. The characters
4. The ending

I will warn you again that if you don't want spoilers for everything, don't read this. Leave. Now.

I was interested in this book because I loved The Wicked Deep and I was down for some more dark fantasy murder stuff. *puts hands together* *leans into mic* I'm disappointed.

First off, we have insta-love between the main character and the one dimensional Oliver Huntsman. Of course, they basically belong together because they're both so one dimensional. Nora finds Oliver in the woods and she's instantly in love with him and I hate it. His eyes are explained with a whole bunch of metaphors which I'll get to later. I have no idea what the rest of him looks like, only that he has green eyes and I honestly don't even care. We have more insta-love nonsense throughout the entire book and honey it was horrible. If you put a gun to my head and told me that if I couldn't get on board this ship, I'd die, I'd just say shoot me. If you told me to reread this, I'd tell you to just shoot me. I can't put up with anymore insta-love garbage.

And now we get to the constant metaphors. The metaphors were extremely annoying. Like a fly buzzing around your room, or like your sister talking about what she wants for her birthday. The metaphors in this book are annoying like a dog that won't stop barking.
*looks into camera like I'm on the office*
There were so many metaphors and similes in this book it was ridiculous. I'm good with a few here and there but these were in every single paragraph. The author would say something that should be one sentence and then turn it into an entire essay with all the metaphors. If it weren't for the metaphors, this book would have been 100 pages shorter.

And now the characters. Nora Walker (which she reminds us of every 3 pages), and Oliver Huntsman.
Nora Walker is a Walker. She reminds us every 3 pages. In case I forgot. She's supposed to be a witch but she's totally useless until the last 20 pages because she doesn't even have magic yet. She's annoying and one-dimensional. She literally has no personality. Like. None at all. She's not like other girls. But here's the thing. When every girl is not like other girls, then no one is not like other girls. And you know what, Nora? You're just like every shallow, lovesick girl in any bad book. So I hate to tell you. Actually I don't. You're not special.

And now there's Oliver. Uhhhh. He has no personality either. Seriously. There's nothing to unpack. As far as I know, he's just a pair of floating, too dark green eyes. Because Nora dreams of his eye colours constantly and it's as annoying as the constant metaphors.

Fin the wolf-dog is the only good character.

Then there's a group of idiot teenagers whose personalities are drunk. They're always drunk. They drink beer, and they swear, and they do stupid things. That's it.

And the ending. So turns out the guy we thought was dead isn't dead and Oliver is actually dead so Nora has been kissing a dead guy. You know. I thought that was a cool plot twist. I thought it was a good ending. But wait. There's more. Nora's magic finally turns up and she turns back time so that Oliver isn't dead. So the whole plot twist was completely useless. Anyways.

There is no character development in this book. There is also no plot development because we just end up back where we started. Lovely. Shoot me. There was like one action scene where a guy died but it was pointless because of Nora's time travel stunt at the end so basically the entire book was pointless because we just end up right back at the beginning.

Boy am I glad I got this book from the library instead of buying it.

The only redeeming quality of this book is the pages from the spell book that show up in between the monologues and metaphors. Everything else sucked.

It also has a super pretty cover which is false advertising because the book itself sucks.
Profile Image for alana ♡.
638 reviews1,233 followers
November 8, 2019
"Others look at me and see a witch. A girl who is dangerous and fearless and full of dark thoughts. But they don't see the parts of me I keep hidden."

Well folks, she did it again.
Welcome to another beautiful world written by Shea Ernshaw.

Winterwood was one of my most anticipated reads for the second half of 2019 and it definitely didn't let me down. It also further solidified that I have a new auto-buy author who is going to steal all my money in the future, but it's fine, totally fine. I don't know what it is about her world-building and soft bit of magic but it totally steals my heart every time. Even though I will say that The Wicked Deep is my favorite book out of the two, Winterwood still was everything I hoped it would be and then some.

Nora, our MC, in the story finds a boy named Oliver in the woods during one of the worst snowstorms that has hit her cozy little hometown in years. There is no way he should have survived but much to her surprise he has. However, he fails to recollect what happened the night he disappeared. Little does Nora know finding Olivier will be the beginning of something much bigger than she can ever imagine. As Oliver slowly unravels what happened the night he disappeared he tries his best to keep his distance from Nora in an effort to not hurt her by exposing the truth. But fate has a way of making sure the two of them always find their way back to one another. The mystery of what happened that night, the soft romance, the setting, and magic in this one will have you flying through the pages in no time.

The setting itself for this one is a place I would gladly love to live in. A lakeside setting surrounded by an enchanted forest that gets so much snow it often falls off the grid for months at a time. YES PLEASE. I'm moving in. It's seriously the perfect book to cozy up to this fall/winter. Plus, the book also includes excerpts from Nora's family spell book which talks about all of Nora's ancestors and the powers they held and their pasts. It works so well for the story because when you get to the end and everything ties together it just pulls on your heart and feels so good. My only reasoning for this one not being a five star read is because I did find this to be a tad bit predictable. However, there's still so much beauty within this book that it was something I was easily able to overlook.

Favorite Quotes

"The Wicker Woods are where old, vengeful things lurk - things much older than time itself. Things you don't want to meet in the dark."

"Walkers cannot trust our own hearts -- our slippy, sloppy bleeding hearts. They are reckless, stupid things. Muscles that beat too fast, that cave inward when they break. Too fragile to be trusted."

All in all, I loved this one. It's perfect to read during a chilly night, bundled up under blankets, with a warm cup of hot chocolate. From the setting, to the characters, to the magic there's so much to love and I hope we get more beautiful books from Shea in the future!

Thank you Simon Teen for sending me a finished copy in exchange for a honest review.

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Profile Image for Bri.
229 reviews49 followers
December 21, 2019
4.75 stars!

Oooo I really enjoyed this book! The first few pages caught my attention right away and I was sucked in so fast. I love books that can grab your attention immediately! It was a real page turner too!

I loved Nora and Oliver. They both seemed like lost souls and found themselves in each other and it was beautiful.

I honestly didn’t see the multiple plot twists coming! I was guessing and guessing what could have possibly happened and I was never right lmao. I also didn’t see that ending coming, but I loved it so much tbh. It was a perfect ending.

Overall, amazing book. I don’t really have any complaints!!
Profile Image for Susan - on semi hiatus.
410 reviews109 followers
February 3, 2020

The title says it all.

Best described as magical realism, it’s a haunting and beautiful story about a mysterious seventeen year old rumored to be a witch by the townspeople.

The central character accepts how others view her. She’s independent, introspective, and wants nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of her strong women ancestors. She was instantly likable.

Self discovery, pride in family, and part love story, in addition to locating a lost teenager are topics covered. The physical descriptions are sublime.

Although classified as Young Adult, I loved this book and think it would appeal to all ages. The writing is gorgeous and sophisticated!
Profile Image for Mary Books and Cookies.
542 reviews406 followers
April 20, 2020

* aaaaAAAHHHH *screech*
* okay, now that I got that out of my system, THIS BOOK YOU GUYS
* Shea’s first book, The Wicked Deep, was my favourite book of 2018, so I was sure I’d love this one too and I was right, she’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors
* if you love dark fantasy, you need to pick this up
* it’s atmospheric as FUCK and I am so annoyed I didn’t read it on a snowy day in December, because it would have been utter perfection
* witches and creepy woods and lost boys and full moons
* the aesthetic™ is on point
* some plot twists you’ll see coming, others will take you by surprise
* i love the fact that it’s set in modern times, but it doesn’t feel that way - it feels like you stepped directly into a dark fairy tale
* the writing is mesmerising and poetic and riddled with metaphors and so, so beautiful
* just… *chef’s kiss*
* special mention for the GORGEOUS cover (the naked hardcover too)


* the romance feels insta-love and I know some people won’t appreciate it
* that’s it, I got nothing more

YAY or NAY: p l e a s e r e a d t h i s

Favourite quotes:

“Because I am more darkness than girl. More winter shadow than August sunlight.”
“I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want the crack inside me to widen, for the ocean of loneliness to creep in. I don’t want to drown.”

“A tree all alone may grow hatred in its bark and moth-eaten leaves, but an entire forest can weave malice so deep and well-rooted that no safe passage can be made through such a place”

“I’m certain that love can be a wound, deep and saw-toothed and filled with salt. But sometimes it’s worth it.”


To everyone who got this far, thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts, comment or tell me anything :)
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books306 followers
April 13, 2020
Wow, this book completely draws you in with its lush, atmospheric writing and its dark setting in the woods out in the cold. I fell in love with Shea Ernshaw’s writing with “The Wicked Deep” and her portrayal of witches and a sinister, almost ordinary low-magic world, and this was similarly delightful with Nora Walker, who collects things, and is rumored to be a witch, combing the cold, barren woods with her wolf, and the lost boy she discovers half frozen in the snow.

Things get creepier as the story progresses. Moths. Camps for wayward boys. Dates that don’t match up. But who is friend and who is foe? The lyrical writing and way the words draw you into this setting is what makes this such a lovely read. Oh Shea Ernshaw, what will you write next?

Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
905 reviews257 followers
August 9, 2020
I rather enjoyed The Wicked Deep, in a summer-read casual kind of way. All salt-encrusted eerieness to balance out the fact that it wasn't exactly groundbreaking.

I expected Winterwood to be at least the same, if not better - and after all, I'm almost as much of a sucker for the forest as I am for the sea.

But not so.

There were two major problems I had with the book: one eyeroll-worthy (knock off a star) and one I can't forgive (knock off all the stars, should not have bothered finishing, wanted to be proven wrong). I'll even leave out a rant about the insta-love (seriously, do the two main characters even talk before they've decided they're forever-and-ever-always-together?), just to be nice.

So. Eyerolling. The writing is so purple it's almost oxygen-less, almost unreadable, and if an editor had gone through and pulled out all the utterly necessary repeats, we would be left with little more than a fairly average short story. Repeats both of words, usually with the last repeat in italics:
I lie.
I lie.
I lie.

Also this gem, another direct quote:
Haunt, haunt, haunt.

and repeats of entire lines, paragraphs, blocks of story, only pages later.
And then again.
And again

We are told on every second page that the Walker family, the Walker women are ever so special (oh, the hilarity of me writing that is not lost on me), and there's even a super weird moment where a huge chunk of exposition about the Walker women's "nightshades" (ie, magical powers) is thrown in at the end but has already been discussed, explained, suggested, hinted at, euphemised, over and over and over again in both the main text and in little cutaway white-on-black sections between chapters. Why? No reason at all. The Walker women are just oh so special, and we need to be reminded of that fact constantly.

Which brings me to point two. Nothing will make me ok with reading about an "ancient" family of european/wicca-styled witches in what I can only assume (from all the given suggestions) to be the place now known as Oregon - ie. colonised land - who have supposedly been there "forever", since before the settlers came, with absolutely zero acknowledgement given of the indigenous people who actually belong to this land. Whitewashed grossness, all of it. Like when Pākehā start calling themselves tangata whenua.
Just NOPE.
Profile Image for Lisa Wolf.
1,591 reviews170 followers
November 1, 2019
Rounding up from 3.5 stars.

It's interesting that the blurb mentions Practical Magic -- I definitely got an Alice Hoffman vibe while reading this story. The language is very lyrical and has that tinge of magic that elevates it above ordinary storytelling.
Walkers cannot trust our own hearts -- our slippy, sloppy bleeding hearts. They are reckless, stupid things. Muscles that beat too fast, that cave inward when they break. Too fragile to be trusted.

The plot itself has a haunting setting -- an isolated lakeside community surrounded by forests that becomes completely cut off from the outside world once the snow starts to fall. Shades of The Shining, perhaps? In this remote location, Nora thrives in her own isolation, while keeping an eye on the camp for troubled boys across the lake. As her path collides with the boys from the camp, she becomes enmeshed in a mysterious event and its violent outcome. The ensuing events threaten everyone around the lake, even the woods themselves.
"Trees have a long memory," I warn, my voice like gravel. The forest remembers who carved names into their trunks, with little hearts dug into the wood; who dropped a cigarette into a clump of dry leaves and scorched their raw bark. They know who broke a limb and tore off leaves and pine needles by the handful just to start a bonfire.

They remember. And they hold grudges.

I'm being intentionally vague on the plot, because it's best to just immerse yourself in the writing and let it flow over you, no preconceptions allowed! The romantic elements of the plot didn't do much for me, but I did appreciate the interweaving of magic and nature, and a pretty cool twist that comes about 3/4 of the way through the story.

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.
Profile Image for Brithanie Faith.
255 reviews164 followers
October 12, 2019
4.5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Let me start this review by saying that Shea Ernshaw could continue to write stories about witches for the rest of her career and I would continue to devour them as they became available to me!

This spellbinding tale following the Walker women (mainly Nora) and their connection to the enchanted forest near their home would have been enough to keep me hooked from page one, but throw in the mystery surrounding two boys; one dead-the other missing, and you've got yourself the recipe for a spooky, atmospheric read!

Like The Wicked Deep, I did find Winterwood to be a tad predictable at times, but it's predictability didn't lessen my enjoyment any, and this is one that I can definitely see myself coming back to in the future!
Profile Image for TheYALibrarian.
295 reviews132 followers
December 11, 2019
Rating 3.5 Stars

After being blown away by Ernshaw’s debut The Wicked Deep I was beyond excited to read another book by her. Especially since it seemed to promise another tale full of witches and if you know me I can’t get enough of them. However, as much as I did enjoy listening to this on commutes to work and while doing tedious cleaning around my house, it did not meet my expectations.

Nora Walker has lived in the cabin near the woods and Jack Jaw Lake since she was born. Being from a long line of Walker witches, the town folk are quick to judge her and ostracize her. The boys at the Camp for Wayward Boys across the lake also spin tales of Nora. But Nora herself believes she does not have the power her late grandmother and her ancestors before her possessed. Her mother, having her own power to lull bees to sleep, has preferred to keep magic out of her and Nora's life. But she has left for a few weeks to sell honey out of town. And now the road out of Fir Haven is blocked with snow and the power has gone out, making it impossible to leave or enter the town.
On the night of a full moon, Nora enters the Wicker Woods. That is only time she can enter these woods, for they are asleep but any other time they are awake and angry. On these nights lost things can be found within the woods and Nora likes to collect what is found. What she did not expect was to find a boy half buried in snow. Nora had heard that a boy met missing at the Camp for Wayward Boys two weeks ago. And now she has found him. His name is Oliver Huntsman. She leads him out of the woods and to her home where he recovers from hypothermia. He has no memory as to how he ended up in the woods, only bits and pieces of his life before. He remembers his cabin mates Brett, Jasper, and Lynn. But something tells him not to let them know he was back and return to the camp. He has a feeling they have something to do as to why he was lost in the woods.

Time passes and Oliver spends time with Nora. Nora also befriends the popular girl (her name is escaping me sorry) who is also Brett's girlfriend. She spends nights at the cabin with Nora, but never sees Oliver. But Nora has told her Oliver is alive and well and sends the news to Brett.
Nora is invited to the part Brett is throwing at a summer home and is confronted by the three boys. They fear her since she is a witch and lock her in one of the bedrooms when she refuses to tell them where Oliver is. For they know what happened that night and that Oliver should be dead. Not a boy named Max who was also there but is said to be the one who died. Oliver helps her escape the house and Oliver starts to remember more and more about that night. Nora almost drowns falling through the ice of Jack Jaw lake trying to get answers herself for that night.
The night after she almost drowns she is dragged out of bed by the boys who are furious at her for trying to escape. They force her into the Wicker Woods, ignoring her warnings that it is not a full moon and the woods would be awake. Oliver is nowhere to be found in these moments. When the enter the woods the trees come alive and close on in on the group. Jasper, in a fit of rage sets the woods on fire. He is the only one that does not make it out of the woods for the trees drag him underground in retaliation. The whole town starts to burn as the fire spreads fast. Nora goes in search of Oliver and instead finds Max. Max who was hiding out in the summer house this whole time. The pieces come into place that Oliver has never been alive. Nora, having the ability to see ghosts like her ancestors, was the only one who could see him. Oliver recovers all his memory, remembering being forced onto the lake as dare by the boys. Max gets on the frozen lake too and the two fight. Oliver falls through the ice and drowns while Max just watches.

Nora returns to the lake and once again falls through the ice. But she wakes up in the woods that are now whole again like they never burned to begin with. She also finds that time has reversed and that Oliver is alive since the whole night when he drowned never happened. Nora had her own magic the whole time after all, the ability to manipulate time. After that it is said that Nora still got Oliver despite him not remembering any of their romantic moments before when he was dead. Also that she spent the rest of her days in that cabin in fur haven, never truly dying unlike her ancestors, for time is now nothing to her, only a memory.

So what really killed this book from being fantastic is it's predictable plot and repetition. I can't count how many times Nora goes on and on about her family being a line of witches and that she is so ordinary. Also on how everyone treats her like a freak for being a so called witch and yada yada. It's really weird that a modern town even goes on about witches and makes a point to ostracize Nora for it but I digress.
I also knew that Oliver was a ghost to begin with. I really wish that I was a big plot twist that I didn't see coming but it was obvious. It really bugs me when I can see the supposed plot twist from a mile away.
Anyway I don't believe this is worth taking the time to read but that is just my opinion.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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