Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Published by Wednesday Books on April 24, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 340 pages Source: OwlCrate, PageHabit
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Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
I’m not sure what I like best in Sky in the Deep: the characters, the setting, the love story, or the plot.
I think it’s very rare for a novel to hit all the points perfectly. Most novels will have amazing characters in a riveting plot, but lose something in the worldbuilding. Or else, they’ll be in these gorgeous fantasy worlds, but the pacing will be so frustrating. I really can’t think of anything to criticize about Sky in the Deep. It’s an easy book to fall in love with.
Eelyn is an Aska warrior, fierce and brave. Everything four years, her people fight the Riki, following their deeply set hatred that comes from a grudge between their two gods. When her brother Iri – who she presumed dead – rescues her, she can’t put his image from her mind. Rather than being killed on the battlefield, she is taken as a dyr and purchased by the family who saved her brother. She is bitterly angry and plotting her escape, but when a common enemy between the tribes reappears in he valley things change.
The plot has a noble quality to it – internal growth, overcoming diffrences, and survival. There are moments of slow, solitary work intermingled with high action. It takes a talented writer to create a successful fighting scene which balances description and pacing. Adrienne Young does this beautifully. Her action is gritty, believable, and thrilling.
Great care has been taken in the details of each culture, with a language that doesn’t distract, distinct rituals, and different details of daily life. There’s just enough detail to outline the slow creep of the cold, but not so much that it breaks apart the pace. Despite her incredible fighting sequences, two particular scenes stand out in my mind: when Eelyn is collecting yarrow, and when she and Fiske are crossing a frozen lake. Both are subtle, but really beautiful and the reader is drawn into the cold north.
The characters themselves are a treat. Eelyn is a strong female lead, but she isn’t obstinate or dramatic. She’s angry and conflicted and you are both angry with her and frustrated in all the best ways as she resists the change you want to see in her. She’s an easy character to fall for. Fiske is reserved and cautious, but kind, and also easy to love. Still, my favorite was little Halvard. I was lucky enough to read an annotated version of Sky in the Deep, and Young noted that Halvard was never intended to be part of the story. So glad he made the cut – he is a smol adorableness and must be protected.
I don’t want to give away much about the love story? I don’t think that the relationships in this book will surprise most people, but they are still quite lovely to watch blossom, so if you’re planning on reading this, I want to you be able to enjoy that. 🙂
Adrienne Young’s debut novel has me absolutely convinced she’s a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the future. For now, if you haven’t read Sky in the Deep, absolutely go pick it up. It’s part Game of Thrones, part How to Train Your Dragon, all ferocity and charm and totally worthy of the hype it’s getting.
Sky in the Deep Stays on My Bookshelf!
I will definitely read this again! My only problem here is that I received copies from both OwlCrate and PageHabit, so I have two different special copies, and I don’t know which one to keep. I actually really like the original gold-tinged cover and feel like it matches the story better, plus the PageHabit one is annotated. But OwlCrate is signed and exclusive. Ugh, decisions. Either way, the extra copy is going to my brother, who will love it.