[A quick note: The thing that ultimately made me pick this one up was the cover. I mean, LOOK at it! And in person, it’s even prettier with its sliver holographic shinny look. I’ve had it on my shelf for almost two years. I finally picked it up as one of my autumn atmospheric reads and it was PERFECT.]
“𝐋𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬—𝐝𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐝. 𝐈𝐭 𝐬𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐬 𝐮𝐩 𝐛𝐞𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮, 𝐬𝐨𝐟𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐞𝐭, 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐬𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐭.” —Shea Ernshaw
In the cursed oceanside town of Sparrow, Oregon, three sisters were drowned two hundred years ago as suspected “witches.” Every year since, they come back. For three weeks, Sparrow is plunged into “Swan Season” where the sisters take their revenge by possessing three young women whose bodies are used to seduce and drown the town’s young men. When Penny agrees to allow a mysterious newcomer to help out with the lighthouse on her island, she can’t help the irresistible pull she feels towards him. But she’s hiding a huge secret, bigger than the secret of Sparrow, and it might be enough to tear them apart.
A curse, tons of romance, and the unraveling of secrets set the stage for what is best described as a twist on the popular Hocus Pocus story. Except this one much darker. The writing is stunningly beautiful. I adored the atmospheric feel and the way it was written, sprinkling in flashbacks of the Swan Sisters during their time leading up to their drowning. There’s also a fun but serious plot twist that occurs a little after the half way point.
One of the things I appreciated was the character transformation we see. It’s clear that after two hundred years of death, at least one Swan sister is ready for change, ready to fix the status quo. But what must happen to ensure that the curse is broken, is a little heart-breaking. Ultimately, it is love that transcends all. It is love that opens the eyes and enacts change and prompts sacrifice. I’m a huge fan of themes like this.
The mysterious aspect of this book was so fun. Little bits and pieces are given away throughout the story that allows the reader to begin putting together the dark details of what actually happened. It left me craving more answers that kept me turning pages. This was a quick read that was difficult to put down.
Let’s talk about the Hocus Pocus factor! I adore Hocus Pocus. It’s my favorite Halloween movie. In this version, the three sisters weren’t actually “witches” per se, not the way the Sanderson sisters were. But they were certainly malicious, known for seducing husbands and leaving hearts broken everywhere they went. But at the end of the day, they were simply women trying to make a new life for themselves.
Being accused as witches was very in line with the Salem witch hunt tactics. And once they were drowned, the curse of their death was enacted. Each year thereafter, the city of Sparrow celebrated “Swan Season” like it was some exciting event. But each year, the three-week event would come with death. Each year, the sisters would possess a woman of their same age, and through that woman, seduce teenage boys to their deaths, drowning them. Every year, at least three turn up dead within the three weeks of Swan Season.
So instead of killing children, they kill young men. And instead of coming back in bodies of their own, they inhibit the bodies of young women who live in the town, and no one has any way of knowing which of these women is possessed. And at the end of the three weeks, they disappear back into the sea, giving the women their bodies back.
It was such an interesting premise! And it delivered. I loved all the dark aspects. If you enjoy curses, stories based on witch hunts, Hocus Pocus, and sea-side settings, you’re going to love this one! The only reason I didn’t give it all the stars was because I didn’t find myself overly thinking about it whenever I set it down. But it was certainly close. 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟒.𝟓/𝟓⭐️