Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Release Date: 1st April 2019 (UK) / 24th April 2018 (US)
Publisher: Titan (UK) / Wednesday (US)
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
“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.”
This book was kindly sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my thoughts and opinions.
This was the fast paced, easy to consume story that my Vikings and The Last Kingdom loving brain needed. This is Adrienne’s debut and I must say that, for a debut, I was really impressed. May aspects to the story were quite sophisticated and the writing was beautiful. It’s just and all-round, excellently written, exciting yet raw and real fantasy story. It explores family, religion, culture, love, betrayal and trust.
Eelyn, our badass warrior heroine, has been raised all her life to fight in a generations-old war between her own clan, the Aska and their rivals the Riki. We open with Eelyn and the Aska fighting another battle in the ongoing war against the Riki, with the two clans meeting every five years to attempt to destroy one another. In the last battle five years previously, Eelyn watched her brother Iri die, slaughtered by her enemy. Yet, five years later, she sees him on the battlefield fighting FOR the enemy. In an attempt to follow her brother and discover why he is alive when she’s mourned him for five years, Eelyn is injured and captured and must survive the winter living in the enemy camp, enslaved by her brother’s adoptive family.
The writing was really the thing that made this story. The description of this Scandinavian inspired world was stunning and I really felt it. Adrienne’s writing really blew me away and I’m really excited to pick up her next book (I actually have an ARC of it, so I should be getting a review up soon). Sky in the Deep was a complete standalone, only coming in at just over 300 pages, so to create an interesting story and believable characters in such a short amount of time really is impressive! Adrienne has managed to introduce us into this world with just enough exposition for it to work in a satisfying way, without ending up bogged down in way too much world building for one book.
Every part of this story was believable. Characters get injured and we see their long, painful recoveries. Characters who feel hurt or betrayed by others take a long time to come around, and the development of relationships between characters was really slow-burn, whether that’s family relationships or romance.
Speaking of romance, this one was beautiful. It took the enemies-to-lovers trope and gave it this really slow-burn development that made it so believable and genuine. The connection that forms between Eelyn (our MC) and the love interest, Fiske is so beautiful and hear-wrenching at times. I truly loved it. This whole book is about family and betrayal and building trust, and Adrienne didn’t shy away from the fact that these things take time. When captured and trapped in her enemies camp, Eelyn isn’t instantly won over. She doesn’t forgive easily, and she remembers the struggles she’s been through. I think often in enemies-to-lovers relationships, or stories where the MC finds themselves faced with the reality of their enemies as people, they are won over so quickly and forget their own history. That certainly wasn’t the case here, Eelyn was questioning and doubtful and loyal. I really enjoyed it and it allowed for Eelyn to have real profound character arc, as her journey was not easy. It also showed the genuine struggle between siblings to repair a damaged relationship. Sometimes books portray blood relation as some sort of instant bond that can forgive all crimes, but Young, again, portrayed such a genuine relationship between Eelyn and Iri as siblings who have reunited after five years with vast differences and buried hurt.
Overall, this was a great debut, a really solid and enjoyable book with great writing. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Adrienne Young does with her companion novel in this world, and if you’re into some Viking inspired fantasy, then I completely urge you to give this a go.