Sky in the Deepby Published 24 Apr 2018
|Sky in the Deep.pdf|
Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.
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.
"Sky in the Deep" Reviews
1 1/2 stars. Okay, I think I might need to step away from YA fantasy for a while. I'm going to read Ash Princess and a couple of other ARCs I've committed to, but after that I'm going to start being much more selective and stop being seduced by pretty covers and exciting blurbs. I might be lying about this, but here's hoping I can restrain myself.
The thing is, Sky in the Deep feels like one more in a long line of shallow and emotionless fantasies. When I began reading, I knew very little about it. A few chapters in and I was thinking "wow, this is so dry and boring" so I decided to go see if any other reviewers agreed with me. Instead, I found 5-star after 5-star rating, plus a starred Kirkus review. Convinced I must have been missing something amazing, I pushed on to the end.
And I don't get it. I'm having that "I feel like I read a completely different book" feeling.
There are some attempts to do something different here. The world and fictional language feel and sound like old Scandinavian, complete with Viking-esque clan warfare and brutal violence. But it is all action and no substance, and the tropes are the same ones we've seen in a thousand YA fantasy novels.
Eelyn is a standard strong warrior heroine, apparently, though the plot is mostly moved forward by her being captured and/or saved by the male characters. There's the sibling love driving Eelyn's motivations. There's the aloof love interest who is as bland as steamed cauliflower. In fact, there is not a single memorable character. The whole book lacks character complexity or depth.
Sky in the Deep opens with its strongest chapter. A bloody action scene ends on a cliffhanger: Eelyn believes she sees her dead brother fighting for the enemy clan. Next thing you know, Eelyn has been kidnapped by said enemy clan, the Riki, or more specifically, by her future love interest. Nothing says romance like a guy shooting you with an arrow and then kidnapping you.
After a few terrible attempts to escape, Eelyn settles into life with the Riki, who are mostly nice and welcoming to her. Then there are pages and pages of conversation, garlic crushing, and wood carving. Where is the suspense? The excitement? The ferocity? Why do we care?! It was SO HARD not to skim chapters.
I guess I would recommend this for fans of violent action scenes interspersed among pastoral activities. For me, this lacked some suspense, characterization or a deeper intriguing theme that would make me want to read on.
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No words can explain how much I loved this book.
But I will give it a try.
Sky in the Deep is a Viking-inspired tale, following the steps of Eelyn, a fierce and devoted warrior. Her clan, the Aska, worship the god Sigr and, according to his will, they fight their enemies, the Riki, the ones who worship the goddess Thora, every five years. This ancient blood feud has filled the hearts of the Riki and the Aska with ingrained hatred, but the fates of the two people are interwined in a way no one could predict. During a battle, Eelyn sees her brother, Iri, who was supposed to be dead, fighting alongside the Riki, and later she is captured by them and kept as a slave by Iri's Riki family, in order to protect her long enough to escape. Even though Eelyn was bred to kill Riki, the longer she spends time with them, the more she realises that maybe they're not so different after all. And that there is another, terrifying enemy, the enemy that comes out at night and sheds oceans of blood, that needs to be defeated, before both the Riki and the Aska perish.
“Vegr yfir fjor.
Honor above life.”
Sky in the Deep is a heartbreakingly beautiful story. Adrienne Young's words were arrows, piercing and hooking my entire existence. There were a sword, cutting any attachment to reality and the surrounding enviroment, ensuring my utter focus and attention. There were an axe, scattering my reserved expectations and skyrocketing them into the sky. I read Eelyn's story with a deep reverence, I felt humble before the magnitude of Adrienne's soulful, poetic writing, and her rare ability to bring words and sentences to life, to make you absorb images, smells, sounds, and feelings as if they were your own. The way she described daily chores, like cooking, and gathering herbs, managed to transport you next to her characters. The occasional gruesome scenes, and the battle frenzy that made your stomach churn, awakened every cell in your body, all of them tuned to the drama unfolding before you. And the romance, the wonderful, slow-burning romance, made your heart yearn and ache in a desperate need to grasp the love that was all-consuming. In a frozen lake, where the night sky was reflected on the ice, making it look like the sky was in the water, I realized that I gave my heart to this novel, something I hadn't felt in a while, and my eyes were wet from the hot tears that escaped in the light of this realization.
“If I wanted to, I could kill the three of them right now. I could set this field of yarrow on fire and let myself burn with it.”
Featuring intense battle scenes, badass Vikings and strong, well-portrayed characters, marvelous world-building and ideal pacing, Sky in the Deep is an enthralling, deeply enchanting debut. Matters of religion and honor are examined in a subtle way that is not preachy, the bond of family, both by blood and by choice, is thoroughly explored, breaking and mending every piece of me. The entirety of the story was simply breathtaking. Eelyn became one of my favorite heroines, she is truly rare, and an example of how YA heroines should be written. She is fierce and independent, but she is also vulnerable and broken, she faces a reality where her enemies are not so different after all, and at first she can't cope with it. Her narration is a poem, the anger, the relief, the disappointment, the pain and the love she felt, I felt them too down to my very core. I shared her thoughts, her emotions, and the conflict that raged inside of her and ravaged her mind and her heart. The betrayal and the hurt she went through were devastating, she just found her beloved brother only to realize she'd lost him to the enemies of her people, and as a result, I suffered from her burden.
“I'm thinking that I wish you'd die that day.”
Adrienne Young does not elaborate on small-talk and unnecessary dialogues. Every word whispered or shouted is meaningful, and the profound tethers between the characters tangible. The enemies-to-lovers romance made my soul sing with its beauty, it intensified the story without overshadowing it, it started as a sparkle and turned into a conflagration that enveloped me in its warmth.
Sky in the Deep is a stunning debut, a bloody saga and an ode to love, family and friendship. Do NOT hesitate to give it a chance!
*ARC generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Review also posted on BookNest!
100% pure Viking awesomeness and a crapload of feels. SO GOOD.
I'll be honest. I was a little worried about connecting to the heroine. I LOVE badass girls, don't get me wrong, but it seems every book is throwing us a hard heroine who wants to cut down a bunch of people and not apologize for it, and they often have no heart or redeeming qualities. (And a lot of the times, they are written by men.) I find myself having a hard time rooting for them unless their character arc is extremely compelling. I'm particularly drawn to characters who find other means of strength and power that isn't in the form of slicing people up and being super mean, lol.
I shouldn't have been worried. This book blew my every expectation out of the water.
In fact, I connected so deeply with Eelyn - even within the first few pages. For me, that's rare. I loved everything about her.
Eelyn is a warrior who has lost her mother and her brother due to wars with rival clans. In fact, her clan (Aska) has a standing battle with the opposing Riki clan every five years - and it was that battle that claimed her brother's life. At the beginning of the book, we're thrown right into that battle five years after she lost him. And despite kicking major ass, she finds herself face to face with a Riki warrior who injures her - except, something stops her from killing him, and she could have sworn it was her brother.
Yep, she actually sees him, despite thinking he was dead for the past five years. And he was fighting against Aska, her clan - which he would NEVER do. It leaves her wondering whether or not she hallucinated him.
I won't spoil anything else, so I'll just say what happens next results in Eelyn ending up in the hands of the rival clan. Go in blind if you can. I didn't even read the blurb before I dove in, and it made every page a mystery as to what would happen next.
I really can't rave enough. The prose was gorgeous, and Adrienne Young has a way of taking hold of your heart with her use of language. I'm just in awe.
As usual, I'll leave you with a list of reasons you should snag this book:
-Epic battle scenes
-Vikings. Are. So. Cool. I mean, cmon. Clan wars? Yes, please.
-You'll find yourself attached to EVERY CHARACTER
-Fantastic worldbuilding & perfect pacing
-All the feels.
-Yes, there's a perfect smidge of romance that doesn't detract from the story - it enhances it.
-And that romance may or may not be enemies-to-lovers - the best trope ever.
-Eelyn is the type of heroine we need more of in literature
So, my point is - read this book, and help me to convince Adrienne to write us another thousand books!
***A special thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with a gorgeous physical copy in exchange for an honest review!
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Wow, this review is so overdue, and I’m so sorry for that—I think I honestly completely forgot that I hadn’t reviewed it yet, but it’s been a full two months since I read this book! That said, it was enjoyable enough that it stuck with me pretty well, so… let’s do the thing!
“Vegr yfir fjor. Honor above life.”
First of all, let me say that I went into this book feeling cautiously optimistic; the synopsis didn’t completely sell me, and I was a little bit worried that it would be one of those super hyped releases that let me down. Thankfully, that was not the issue at all, because this book sucked me in so fast!
I was the ice on the river. The snow clinging onto the mountainside.
I love stories involving icy tundras and characters that fit this Viking-esque vibe, and Sky in the Deep definitely supplies a version of that. From the first page, there is so much action and bloodshed, and unlike many YA authors I’ve read, Adrienne Young doesn’t shy away from showing you a little gore and devastation! Obviously we’re not talking adult grimdark levels here, but if you’re very sensitive, well, don’t say nobody warned you!
I hadn’t lost her. I hadn’t buried her. I’d only let her change into something new.
More than anything, I loved Eelyn’s character and how capable and intelligent she is. Despite the fact that she’s been raised to believe certain things about her enemy tribe, she’s not so set in her ways that she can’t grow to recognize when things don’t quite line up with her upbringing. She’s got this fantastic fighter’s spirit, and I truly enjoyed watching the world go by through her eyes.
The writhing, bleeding hole inside of me closed up. I let him erase it. I let him make it go away.
Of course, there’s also the matter of the romance, which is a bit slow to build, and never overpowers the main storyline. That said, it’s swoon-worthy in its own way, and I’m such a sucker for these characters that look like big, scary tough guys on the outside but end up being gushy teddy bears inside, so if you feel me on that, you’ll probably appreciate Eelyn’s love interest just as much as I did.
“What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking I don’t want to fight anymore.”
Overall, I so thoroughly enjoyed this story. I loved the fighting, the romance, the depictions of faith, the mysticism in certain scenes, and the atmosphere. I felt like I should’ve been surrounded by icy fjords while reading this book, and it’s the type of story I can happily recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy, and that I will happily come back to again and again.
You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Buddy read with Taylor! ♥♥♥
I did not expect to like this book so much at all. The concept is simple and the plot is also very straight forward but the emotional aspect of this book was far deeper than I anticipated. I love the whole Viking concept going on and the characters are all amazing. What blew me away the most is the writing. Adrienne Young’s writing is the one of the most spectacular use of words I have seen in my life. I went into the book without reading the blurb and the two reasons I was so enchanted by this book are the protagonist (who is awesome) and the author’s writing skills. I can’t stop ranting about the dexterity of the writing in this book. Every sentence is written so alluring and the descriptions are done so well I could see everything happening before my eyes. HOW DOES SHE WRITE SO WELL?!
The Aska and the Riki have been fighting since the beginning of time. Every 5 years they meet on the battlefield to fight a war fueled with hatred accumulated through the centuries. Their children are raised to hate their opponents and are taught to fight and are prepared for battle. They each worship a different god and follow different religious paths, but eventually you see they are pretty much the same but with a different god.
Eelyn is an Aska. She lost her brother, Iri, on the battlefield a few years ago, but she sees her brother fighting with the Riki and in her shock she is captured by the Riki and is made a Dyr, which is the title for slaves. She is bought by the people her brother calls family and plans to escape as soon as possible. But in the time she spends with the Riki she is struck by how similar the life of the Aska and Riki are and subconsciously begins to realise that her opinion on the Riki was misconceived.
Watching her grow to understand why and how her brother had accepted the Riki as his family and grew to love him opens our eyes to how much weight love had in leading us to open mindedness.
I love Eelyn’s character. Even though she was raised to fight and kill, she never took joy in killing anyone and only saw it through as it was her duty as an Aska warrior. I was even more impressed by the fact that she opened up enough to accept the Riki even after a lifetime of nurturing hate towards them.
Realising that the people on the other side of the battlefield are people with families and the same responsibilities as you and your people changes your perspective on war. And this view was magnified and came into clarity as Eelyn was forced to see the working of a Riki village and the similarities to her own make it so much harder to accept that the people she was raised to hate were also just that - people with their own lives.
I absolutely loved every part of this book and I flew through it. The book moves at a great pace and since the characters were so amazing it felt like this book was over in no time at all. If you’re looking for an easy read or a good standalone I definitely recommend this to you, especially if you enjoy a bit of Viking war. I rate this book 5 stars.