Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Date: 24th April 2018
When I first heard of this Viking inspired standalone novel, I got really excited. I headed straight to Amazon and pre-ordered it, only for Amazon to later cancel the order and say they would no longer be stocking it. Imagine my disappointment. But then, one day, I was scrolling through NetGalley and saw that Sky in the Deep was available to request and of course I did. I waited weeks without hearing anything and with the release date less than a week away I had given up hope. Then I got the email saying that I was approved and I have never been happier. I read this book within two days, which is very quick considering I have work in the week. It was incredible and so moving, one of my favourites of the year so far.
For centuries the Aska and Riki clans have been battling every five years, fighting for their deities and honour. Eelyn is a seventeen year old Aska warrior who prides herself on her fighting skills and has a strong will to survive. As she is battling against the Riki clan once more on the battlefield, she sees something that stops her in her tracks. Before her eyes is her brother Iri, the same one that she watched die five years beforehand. A brother that is fighting with the Riki, not against them. Following him to discover the truth, she is captured by Fiske, the one who is with her brother, and is taken back to one of the Riki villages where she is surrounded by her enemies. All she wants is to understand what happened to her brother and to eventually return home, something that is easier said that done when you are stuck on a mountain in the dead of winter. But when a dangerous force attacks the village, Eelyn has no choice but to trust Fiske and the other Riki, and to help bring the clans together before their enemies destroy them once and for all.
I have so many wonderful thoughts about this book that it is hard to know where to begin. I’m going to start by saying that, at its core, this is a book about family and loyalty, as well as overcoming prejudice. It shows us that sometimes we need to look past the thoughts and feelings that have been instilled after centuries of thinking a certain way and that we should open our hearts to others. The emotions in this book are raw and you feel everything that Eelyn is going through. When she is angry you feel it burning your skin, and when she is sad and at a loss you can feel your heart breaking with her. The writing style flowed perfectly and kept me turning the pages, always wanting to find out what happened next.
I really liked the mythical lore of the clans and their Gods/Goddesses. The Aska worship Sigr, the God of Water and the sea, where their home lies, whilst the Riki worship Thora, Goddess of Fire and the mountains. The origin of the hatred that runs between these two clans is explained early on and is something that is referenced throughout. Both clans fight for honour and to earn a place in the afterlife with their family, they just have different ways of worshipping their deities.
There are some incredible action sequences throughout, with axes swinging, blood covering clothes and blades being drawn across skin. In fact, the first chapter jumps straight into the action of the battlefield and it set me up for the rest of the book. Not exactly for the faint of heart, but there are also parts that are heart warming and touching. Sky in the Deep stirred so many emotions in me and it is something that doesn’t always happen. I felt like I was right there by Eelyn’s side as she went through everything, some of which wasn’t always pleasant. I will mention that there are mentions of rape at times, so that is something to bear in mind.
Our main character, Eelyn is feisty, strong and a true warrior. She is protective of the ones she loves and won’t take any crap from anyone. So, when she is captured it really hits her hard and she has to adjust, but at the same time the survivor in her is always looking for a way out. She has great character development, shown through her emotions and actions as she begins to learn why her brother stayed with the Riki and didn’t return home to the Aska.
While at the Riki village, Eelyn sees that they aren’t so different from the Aska, and slowly but surely we get to find out more about Fiske’s family, the people who took Iri in after the accident. There are some very sweet and tender moments between them all, often reminding me of my own family. Then there is the slow burning relationship between Eelyn and Fiske, which was just incredible. I haven’t enjoyed a romance like this in a while and it was extremely refreshing for it not to be instant-love, or a love triangle.
I could probably go on and on about how much I adored this book. Everything was perfect. We have fully fleshed out characters, incredible relationships, great action, a quick pace and some of the best world building I’ve read in a while. There wasn’t too much of any one thing, and I loved it that much I may have to just buy my own copy. One of the easiest five star ratings I’ve given out this year.