Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (2018)
YA Fiction | Fantasy
“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.”
Expected Publication Date: April 24, 2018
pooled ink Review:
I have been seeing this book pop up all around me on the internet and I’ve been hearing so many good things that I was pretty stoked when I received an eARC to review. Truthfully at the beginning I wasn’t sure how I was going to end up feeling about this book. There was a lot of hype surrounding it (which makes me both excited and skeptical) and as I started reading my interest was, well, wavering. I was really tired though so maybe it wasn’t the best time to start a book. However once Eelyn was captured by the Riki my interest was captured also, and from that point onward I was totally absorbed into the story.
This YA Fantasy pulls great inspiration from Viking lore and with it comes an epic journey of battle and betrayal. Opening with a great ritual battle between the Aska and the Riki we witness the first taste of bloodshed that has become tradition between the two enemy clans. Eventually Eelyn, an Aska warrior, is captured by the Riki and she must face not only the truth of her enemy and their blood feud, but she must come to terms with the shocking discovery that her brother still lives and he has sided with the Riki.
The writing in this book really flowed for me. It had me completely wrapped up in Eelyn’s emotions and mentality as she angrily trudged through this life thrown upon her. And as weird as it may sound, one thing I really loved about Eelyn besides her unbreakable loyalty was her rage. She was a complex, hardened individual who held honor and loyalty above all else and it was intense to feel the storm of emotions within her as she learns of her brother’s betrayal.
I have a few words about that… [prepare for mini-rant]
Look, I get it. Two tribes with a blood feud spanning generations upon generations and suddenly Eelyn must face the reality that despite being enemies, both clans are human and both so much the same. They look the same, they care for their families the same, they work together the same, etc. I get it. But the betrayal of Iri is something that the writing managed to transfer to me making me feel Eelyn’s fury at that betrayal deeply. Honestly as much as I got the point I just wanted Eelyn to get her revenge somehow. (Terrible of me, I know).
I can understand learning to view an enemy as a friend, especially when they save your life, but… Iri was beloved and yet he chose a new family to call his own and he fought beside a new clan to cut down the one that share his blood. He left his family behind to mourn his assumed death and never went back to them to reveal that he had miraculously survived. They left his deathly still body bleeding out at the bottom of a cliff with their hearts broken and he left them behind in turn. He chose to sever his past and start anew on the enemy’s side (the fact that they’re nice people is beside the point).What the hell, Iri? How can you renounce your family, your clan, and your god so easily when they did nothing but love you and presume you dead (which he should have been!)?? I don’t know. That’s too much. It’s too big a betrayal. GET OUT, IRI.
(Then again I can be a rather angry person inside so maybe my reaction is in the minority haha it probably is. I’m pretty good at setting differences and wrongs aside, but I’m terrible at leaving them behind.)
Forgiveness is a difficult task for Eelyn but her loyalty to her brother battles strongly against her loyalty to her beliefs and her tribe. But what both clans must face is a larger cause, something that will pull them from their well-worn path of hatred. But as angry as Eelyn and I are angry at her brother, I’m glad Eelyn and Iri can care for each other, and I’m happy with how the author crafted their relationship throughout the story, one that remains complicated and never to be quite the same as it was. There was no tossing aside of sins or anger. Every emotion was a struggle and a puzzle to wrestle through.
Lots of action filled these pages (could it be a Viking-inspired fantasy without it?) and between each battle cry and swing of an axe there runs the deeper themes of family, loyalty, and love. The ending of this book does not come easily. Eelyn is not a happy let’s-make-the-best-of-things type of girl, she’s a warrior with a lifetime of hatred bred into her soul, which makes her a wonderfully complicated and interesting main character.
(I will say that she did seem to cry an awful lot though. I mean, crying is a normal reaction especially from someone who has been taken from their family, enslaved, and betrayed, but she was supposed to be a brutal and fearless warrior unafraid of even death, so, it just seemed a bit odd how often and how much she cried…but it’s not that big a deal haha just a random observation.)
Anyway, I found myself riveted by the story and its characters so I will call this one a success. It definitely lived up to the hype for me!
I’m not 100% certain if it’s a standalone or if it’s part of a series but unless there are some major changes between the ARC and the final copy then this book could definitely be enjoyed as a standalone [Update: This book is indeed a glorious standalone but there will be a companion novel coming in 2019!] which I think is fantastic because everything seems to be a part of a series these days, especially YA fantasy.
Sky in the Deep rages over the fate of a young warrior as she becomes a captive of the clan with which her people have a centuries-old blood feud. Heart-racing action ignites alongside painful truths and twisting depths as the characters must learn how far their hatred is willing to go, and how costly forgiveness may come. A must-read for YA Fantasy fans, this is certain to be a top release of 2018.
Purchase here: Sky in the Deep
Meet Adrienne Young!
Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.