Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: April 24th 2018
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 neighbour 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Ever since Eelyn lost her brother to their clans’ ancient rivalry with Riki people her life has been simple; fight alongside her best friend cutting down any Riki clansmen who find themselves on the wrong side of her axe and survive until the next fighting season. But when she sees her brother on the battlefield, alive again and fighting alongside the Riki they’ve been slaughtering for years, Eelyn’s world is turned upside down.
Sky in the Deep throws us the middle of the action as Eelyn and her fighting mate and best friend, Mýra, prepare for another battle with the Riki who invade their land. It’s a fast paced opening but the story slows down from that point onwards. Chasing after Iri’s ghost Eelyn is captured, and finds herself at the mercy of the Riki and the brother returned from the dead she no longer knows. From that moment on the story becomes a different battle for survival for Eelyn, one that requires her wits rather than brute force.
Forced into servitude to the Riki family who took her brother, and trapped in the mountain village the Riki have made their home until the frost melts Eelyn is surrounded by the enemy. However when the Riki village is raided by a clan thought to be nothing more than a legend, a clan Eelyn has seen once before years ago, she knows the only way for the Riki and Aska clans to survive is to put their hatred aside and work together.
This book had a strong opening in the initial battle between the Aska and the Riki that introduced us to Eelyn, and an action-packed ending as everything Sky in the Deep had been building came to a head, but the middle of the book was more of a slow-paced exploration than anything else. Adrienne Young took the time to develop Eelyn’s character, to explore her relationship with her brother and the Riki she found herself surrounded by, which only ended up making the climax more satisfying to see play out.
Eelyn goes through some incredible character development over the course of this book. As an Aska she believes in honour above all else, and when her brother fell five years ago it was the Aska way to leave his body and soul for their god. When Eelyn is captured by the Riki she becomes a dýr, a collared slave, and believes this means she will lose her honour in the eyes of her god. Eelyn is fierce, and she never gives up; despite being told it will be too dangerous to try and escape before the frost melts she is determined to find her way back to her people.
The more time Eelyn spends in the mountains with her brother the more she sees another side to the Riki people, and sees what made Iri stay even when he could have come home to Eelyn and their father. She ignores any attempts the Riki make to reach out to her, but she starts to care about the people she sees living their lives the same way the Aska do, and when the Herja attack it isn’t just her family she’s thinking of but Fiske’s family, Iri’s new family on the mountains.
Fiske was the boy fighting with Iri five years ago when Eelyn believed her brother was killed. He is strong willed and it was thanks to Fiske that the two boys survived the fall. He’s strongly loyal to his people and after what they went through together he considers Iri his brother. He takes Eelyn prisoner because he knows if he didn’t he or Iri would be forced to kill her, but he worries someone will make the connection between the two of them, endangering Iri.
As much as I enjoyed seeing the relationship between Eelyn and Fiske grow, watching as they slowly saw more to one another than their clans and watching as they came together to fight against a much bigger threat, the relationship between Eelyn and her brother was much more interesting to see play out.
For the past five years while Eelyn has prayed to Iri’s soul, mourning him. When he first sees him across the battlefield she’s shocked, but that soon changes to anger and even disgust and resentment when she realises he’s become one of the Riki their clan have been fighting for so long. The relationship between them is complicated to say the least, but Iri still clearly loves his Aska family and tries to protect Eelyn however he can.
While the setting itself, the fjords where the Aska clan make their home and the mountains the Riki people reside on, were wonderfully written the standout aspect of Sky in the Deep was the mythology. As part of the Aska clan Eelyn believes in Sigr, the god who rose from the sea to protect his people from Thora, the fire god the Riki worship. In the stories they’re told around the campfire it’s Thora who started the attack that led to the bitter rivalry between the two clans, but in the stories the Riki tell it’s the other way around. The stories of these two gods, their legends and the cultures each clan have to worship them, were so well written and her belief was such a big part of Eelyn individual characters as well.
Sky in the Deep is a standalone and it’s such a brilliant story. I loved seeing how Eelyn changed throughout this book, and it ended in a way that left me satisfied with how Young left all her characters. Sky in the Deep is incredibly written, I can’t believe this is Adrienne Young’s debut novel but after finishing this book I will be picking up anything else she releases.
What did you think of Sky in the Deep? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.