Sky in the Deepby Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: April 24th, 2018
Cover Comments: Great detail on this cover, with the axe and the braids in Eelyn's hair. That axe looks pretty puny though, tbh.
Synopsis: 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.
Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.
“We find things, just as we lose things. If you’ve lost your honor, you’ll find it again.”
I picked up Sky in the Deep after getting approved to read The Girl the Sea Gave Back on Netgalley, which I had not realized was a sequel/companion novel (oopsies). It was already on my list though, and I remember hearing tons about this book last year, around the time Tricia Levenseller's Warrior in the Wild was making waves too. Female warriors are a trend I can get behind. While I think Sky in the Deep has been a tad overhyped, I loved the rich story, layered characters, and general badassery to be found in this novel.
The yays and nays, in no particular order:
Although they aren't called Vikings per se, the worldbuilding of the Aska and Riki clans are very much Viking-esque. I like the vaguely nordic field to the landscape, with the fjord and mountains. Plus axes and braided hair! I don't really know anything about Vikings as it turns out!
2) Slow-build romance
I really liked the romance portrayed in Sky in the Deep, and appreciated that it wasn't completely obvious from the first meeting of the two love interests. It's born of learning about one another and considerable breaking down of pre-conceived notions.
3) Complicated family loyalties
As revealed in the book synopsis, Eelyn discovers (very early on) that her brother is alive after many years of thinking him dead. Not only that, he's been living with the Aska's sworn enemies, the Riki. After spending time with her brother and some of the Riki, Eelyn's feelings toward her brother and the enemy clan grow ever more complicated. It was interesting to see Eelyn work through all these emotions and change her way of thinking over the course of the book.
I feel like I should have flown through this book, but I felt like I was slogging through the middle portion. Not that it wasn't good or didn't advance the plot, I just wasn't racing through like I would expect to with a book like this.
2) Enemy treatmentI'm not sure this is even a real negative, but I thought it was interesting how the book treats enemy clans. The Riki start out as a enemies, but Eelyn's brother complicates things there, which added an interesting dimension. However, another set of enemies that show up later in the book are portrayed as wholly evil with no dimension at all. It struck me as odd after fleshing out the Riki as much as Sky in the Deep did.
A great debut by Adrienne Young; while the middle portion can be slow to get through, the characters, setting, and romance all make it well worth a read.