Book Reviews

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young | Book Review

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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.

Note: spoilers, probably. I tried, but spoiler-free is so hard.


Hi my name is Erin and I love Sky in the Deep. Like love. Like really, properly, love. it. I got this book in the May OwlCrate box and briefly started it then, but didn’t get very far because I was way overloading myself with books at the time. But now?! I am stunned at how much I loved this. I am so incredibly disappointed that it’s a standalone novel because I want to read more about Eelyn’s world so much.

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(Yes, Ned, that is true.)

The characters in this book were so great. First you have Eelyn, who can gouge your eyes out without even blinking (seriously, she does that!). She is just the warrior that I would love to be. Nothing will stop her from protecting her family. No-thing. Her honor and her clan come before even herself, and for that, I can deeply respect her. Not only does she prove herself to be a worthy opponent of a fully-grown and trained man, but she wins?? Like, all the time?? One of the best parts about her is the capability she has to stay true to herself, even through all she goes through in this book. I mean, she spends like 300 pages building up relationships with her kidnappers, and real relationships at that. But even at the end, when she’s forced to reckon with the fact that the her clan, the Aska, have to join together with their worst enemies, the Riki, she’s not 100% convinced that she can let that generations-long grudge against them go. I mean, I get it, girl. Centuries have been built upon these battles, and suddenly working together just seems like a plan that would never work. So even though she is determined that both clans and the ones she loves in them will survive, her heart first and foremost remains at home, with the Aska. Your girl is stubborn, I tell you.

Fiske is a character I knew I would eventually grow to love, but definitely started out despising. His character was cruel and unkind, and although I knew something would develop between him and Eelyn (who I love), I was still pretty content to hate his guts while he was still the bad guy. Still, under all that, you know there is just a big heart full of more love than it seems any heart could possibly hold. In fact, I wasn’t sure at first who he loved more – Eelyn, for her loyalty, determination, and strength, or Iri, the one he rescued and brought into his family. Seriously. They talk about how much he loves Iri all the time.  I was starting to wonder if there was something going on there.

Inge is my favourite. She’s the kind of person I would want to be, if I was in these clans, I think. She’s a healer, and healers are always my favourite characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good warrior, but the healers have the kind of heart and kindness that I want to exhibit most in my life. They can see through people to who they really are. They accept and love with all they can give. I mean, Inge adopted Iri into her own family, despite having two of her own children already. Despite her inherent hostility to the Aska, like all the Riki do, she opened her home and eventually her heart to Eelyn. Inge is probably the best character in this book, to be completely honest.

I think Iri has more charisma than Eelyn has, which pretty much explains how he could so easily integrate himself with the Riki. I did like how there was always a gray area in terms of whether Iri betrayed the Aska, or whether the Aska left him for dead. That’s never fully resolved, but I think that’s okay. Even now, after they all defeated the Herja together and now will presumably cease their centuries-long fighting, it makes Iri’s role even more important in bonding the two clans together. I mean, in addition to that, we have Fiske leaving the Riki completely to live with Eelyn in Aska, but it was Iri who initiated the bridge first (even if he,  you know, would have died otherwise). I liked how he brought out so many different traits in Eelyn, but his most important role as the bonder really is the tipping point of this whole thing.

As a side note, I really like Mýra as well. She served as a contrast to Eelyn after she had been with the Riki for a while, which I really liked. When Eelyn and Fiske eventually returned to Hylli to see the damage done to her village, it was interesting to see how the old Eelyn (in the form of Mýra) would have interacted with the new Eelyn. She’s also a great symbol of how much has been lost between all the clans, because her whole family had been massacred over the wars. Aghi was a much smaller character, but I appreciated how soft he was at the times that mattered, like when he was finally reunited with Iri. I also appreciated how willing he was to bond with the Riki over the defeat of the Herja. It would be one thing for him to retreat back into that warrior masculinity and honor-based demeanor, but instead he could see the big picture and knew his clan’s survival would be counting on his ability to closely examine the things that truly matter.

I did like all the Norse influences on, well, everything. I mean, it is a story about quasi-vikings, but it made everything more authentic than if Eelyn was named say, Sarah. I still can’t figure out exactly what a dýr is. My best guess is that it’s a sort of low-tier slave, next to dirt, basically. Actually, probably lower than dirt. There was a lot of shame involved and I got the feeling that Eelyn would rather die than be a dýr . There’s no battle between being feminine and being a warrior in this book either, which I liked a lot. One of my favourite little details is the fact that Eelyn fights with a sword (or a knife) in one hand and an axe in the other, because she was too weak at one point to properly hold a shield. Even though she’s totally strong enough to hold a shield now, your girl doesn’t even need one.

Even Wonder Woman didn’t spend all her time in battle. In a lot of reviews of this, I noticed that one of the recurring things people disliked is that there wasn’t nearly enough of the battles that the summary so graciously promises. I mean, were the battles at the beginning and end not enough for you? There’s even one in the middle. Sure, they’re not at war 100% of the time, but if they were, I know I wouldn’t like it as much. Honestly, I think it had just the right amount of battle. Well, the one at the end could have been a bit longer. It was over in like, three pages and I found myself wondering if that was it. But other than that.

I don’t know if this review is really any good. I just loved this book so much that I’m really struggling to come up with things to say. Stephanie Garber called it “violently beautiful”, which is probably more perfect of a description than I could ever come up with. It’s gripping and rich and to use a Specials phrase, totally icy. Have I mentioned how much I love the enemies-to-lovers trope? Because I do, and when it’s done well…sigh.  Anyway, some people have said that this book doesn’t really bring anything new to the YA world, which may be true. But when you’re less well-read in that area, like I am, it doesn’t seem that way at all, which means we can enjoy it more and people who don’t can suffer through it, I guess. I will definitely be picking up more of Adrienne’s books when she writes them. Did I mention it’s her debut? Because damn, girl. You can write.

***

Adrienne Young

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9 thoughts on “Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young | Book Review”

  1. I’ve seen that cover around a few times but I never looked into what it was about! It sounds amazing, I love when a novel is driven not only by the plot but also by its characters. Enemies to lovers is seriously one of my favourite tropes, it’s just so satisfying! I’m definitely gonna make a mental note to check the book out next time I’m in the bookstore 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this book so much! I have read some mixed reviews about that one so far – it’s good to see you loved it that much. I always love when a particular attention is paid to the characters, especially in fantasy – characters are always my favorite part of any book ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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