Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.
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.
ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for an honest review.
I would like to start by saying quite strongly that this is not a fantasy novel. It unfortunately has been labeled that, but once you read it you will quite clearly see that there is no magic, no Odin or Loki lurking about, nothing about it says fantasy. It is a viking inspired historical adventure fiction. Maybe other people have a looser definition of fantasy than I do or perhaps we just don’t know enough about the time period this book is set in to say it is historically accurate. But I think people who don’t enjoy fantasy will pass this book by because of that label and that would be a shame. Check out this interview with the author on Goodreads to see how she researched and used actual elements from their culture to shape her world.
This was a gripping story full of battles, family bonds, friendships, matters of religion and honor, so so much it is hard to believe that it is only 352 pages. It reads like a much longer book, and not because it drags, but because there is so much to the world, the plot and the characters. I am also a big fan of the enemy of my enemy is my friend plot.
Eelyn is such a badass, and not just because she is a warrior and can handle an axe. But she can handle herself, think quickly and keeps on going even when injured. I liked her and had an easy time connecting to her story and to her. She does have a lot of inner conflict though, which just makes her feel more real. She really has a hard time accepting her brother’s betrayal to his clan and family. But she does eventually get it. To her the Rikki were always just the enemy, someone they did battle with because they didn’t worship the same god and because they just did. Fighting the Rikki was just what they did every 5 years. But she does eventually begin to see them as no different than the Aska. They have families and lives very similar to hers. But honor always gets in the way of acceptance.
Fiske and his family were great characters as well. I loved little Halvard, he had such a kind, gentle and open heart how could you not love him? Inge was also a great character, a great mother role that both Iri and Eelyn both really needed. Fiske I had mixed feelings about from the start, but he eventually won me over just like he did with Eelyn. There is a short and sweet romance between them, but it doesn’t overshadow the main plot which was nice.
The plot has its ups and downs. It starts right off with Eelyn in battle with the Rikki and just keeps going. There are some brutal battle images throughout the book so be aware if you are sensitive to gore and violence. There is one scene that involves eyes that I won’t go into, but lets say I skipped to the next page once I saw where it was going. There are some slower sections when life is simply happening, but through out those sections you are learning what the simple day to day life of a viking must have been like. They were not constantly raiding and fighting their enemies. They were simply just living their lives. Al though those parts has a slower pace, I certainly did not think they were boring. The social structor and the religion explanations were fascinating.
This next section might be a bit of a spoiler if you have not read the book yet, but I feel that it needs to be said. I was fully willing to give this a five star rating until I got to the last chapter. That chapter just took away all of the credibility to the story. I just find it hard to believe that after thousands of years of animosity, one battle could suddenly change everything? Maybe I’m just reading it wrong, but it really irked me. But otherwise it was a really great read.
If you are into Vikings, historical fiction, kick ass female leads this would be a great book for you to check out. It has been getting a lot of hype, but it is well deserved. It is hard to believe that this is a debut and I am looking forward to seeing what else this author will be writing in the future.