Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Page Count: 352
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.
“Ǫnd eldr. Breathe fire.”
Not many books put me in a slump. But after reading this book, I cannot stop thinking about it. Brutal yet beautiful, Sky in the Deep is rich and vivid. This character-driven novel will stay with me long after I slide it back on my shelf.
Adrienne blends together hatred and forbidden love, loyalty and forgiveness, and betrayal and acceptance. I’ve fallen in love with her storytelling. Even though I’d rather stay away from standalone stories, her debut novel makes me forget that fact. This coming-of-age storyline whisks you away to a lush landscape and unforgettable characters. And I wish I could travel back there more than one time.
Eelyn, a fearless Aska warrior, knows only survival, war, pain, and loss. She’s a relatable character who is fiercely loyal to her family and clan. She discovers her brother, who she thought has died, is alive. And the revelation that he would rather stay with the Riki, the rival clan, than find his way back to her just rocks her even more. This betrayal makes her vulnerable, and I wasn’t expecting this kind of character arc in a Vikings-inspired story. But that’s why it makes the story captivating. And I enjoyed it all the more though.
Don’t be fooled by this author. She effortlessly takes world building up another notch. Aska and Riki have long since battled each other. The clanspeople prepare for their day on the battlefield of Aurvanger. But they find a common ground when their people are threatened by the Herja.
The characters in this novel are what makes it stellar. They are more than just multi-dimensional. They feel tangible. Fiske, Eelyn’s love interest, will grow on you. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should trust him as a character, but this love-to-hate relationship is just what I needed. He challenges and forces her to see who he is and what her brother has become. The secondary characters are exceptional, which I don’t usually find in a historical novel.
Sky in the Deep mends the heart as fast as it can break it. It is one of the rare debut stories that will make you fear the battlefield but also give a reason to want to be on it. Filled with adrenaline and fast-paced scenes, this book is one of my favourite reads of 2018.