Sky in the Deepby Published 24 Apr 2018
|Sky in the Deep.pdf|
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.
"Sky in the Deep" Reviews
More often than not, when I pick a YA fantasy up, I am not expecting to be surprised. Entertained, maybe, and possibly charmed, but not surprised. Never surprised. I feel like if I do, I am setting myself up for disappointment on purpose.
Because rare are the YA fantasy books that are so original they don’t immediately remind you of previous fantasy books you’ve read. This is why it’s extremely easy for readers and professionals to market those stories as ‘‘said book’’ meets ‘‘said book’’.
It’s when you’re unable to do that when you review a book that you realize that what you hold in your hands is completely fresh. And isn’t that an amazing feeling? To know that you may have just read a new classic that will allow for more stories about Vikings to be published in the future?
To my surprise, it is more character-driven than action-driven. It is interesting because there is strong, intense action in the beginning and for the last one hundred and so pages of the story, but what is in-between is relatively calm and measured.
That is absolutely normal, seeing that when Eelyn becomes a captive, she is unable to pursue her past activities that mostly involve fighting. She is forced into a submissive life that consists of her performing household duties and helping the enemy in different ways. Clearly, as she is doing those things, she is planning her escape and how she will get back at her kidnappers. At the same time, she is torn since the brother she thought lost forever is back into her life as one of her new enemies.
Eelyn is a fully fleshed out heroine. She may be out for blood and not progressive-thinking, but I understood where she came from. In her culture, honour goes above everything. By being taken from her group as she was fighting the enemy, she believes she has lost her honour in the eyes of her God. It is imperative that she recuperates it, otherwise she will not be allowed access to the afterworld. Her motives are justified. But I also liked that she found it in her to see the world through her enemy’s eyes.
I was happy to be reading a standalone YA fantasy novel, as those are fairly rare, but now that I finished it and loved it, I want more. This is a satisfying novel, though, so this is just me being greedy.
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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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*Full review update!* 100% pure Viking awesomeness and a crapload of feels. SO GOOD.
I'll be honest. When I first saw the cover, 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. Great - those stories can be fun, but often 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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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!
Wow, this story gets going right from the start. Nothing is ever dull and you pick up a ton about Eelyn's main character right away. She's pretty tough - you can totally feel her conviction and drive through her POV! But I reallllly appreciate that her character and personality are SO much more than simply "fierce."
I'll admit I put this one off for a bit and didn't get to it until around Christmas because I kind of maybe judged it by the cover. I LOVE stories about Vikings, but was a bit hesitant that a YA take on that might result in an empty, ruthless MC who just wants brutal revenge and to kill everyone around her blah blah etc. I'm getting a bit tired of seeing that over and over. But this was NOTHING like that and I am so sorry I ever waited to get to it!!!
Oh my goodness - Adrienne Young can write. This whole story was so well done!! It felt a bit like Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Chronicles except tamer/less violent?? I kept thinking throughout the book how I really appreciated being immersed in an action-packed and detailed setting like this without having to sit through all of the descriptions of gore and violence against women that I've sadly grown used to skimming around. This was just a fun, intense, and emotional adventure full of well-developed characters! The book description is perfect and summarizes everything without giving away any spoilers, so I'll just defer to that instead of basically rewording the whole thing here...
If you like this story then I'd recommend The Half-Drowned King, anything by Bernard Cornwell, or some YA stories like Warrior Princess, Beyond a Darkened Shore, Between Two Fires, or The Valiant (just because of the whole dead sibling returning & MC fighting for a previous enemy). They all have similar elements!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC!