If you’re looking for an action-packed YA adventure filled with conflict, family intrigue, and a touch of romance, then pick this book up immediately.
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. She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. 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.
The story starts off with a bang, when we are thrown into the middle of the Aska-Riki battle, where Eelyn sees her (supposed) dead brother fighting for the enemy clan, and gets taken captive by said clan.
The pace slows down a bit after the action. Eelyn bides her time as a servant among her enemies; quietly furious, while planning her escape. Although a bit slower, a lot of emphasis is placed on the character development during this stage; their relationships and beliefs, etc., which kept me interested. It’s not long before a new, terrifying threat is introduced and the pace picks up again.
If I didn’t read it in the blurb, I would never have guessed that this is Adrienne Young’s debut novel. Her writing is lush and atmospheric, pulling you into the Viking-esque world she creates from the very first page. She writes with a flow that kept me turning the page long after I promised myself that I would only read one more chapter.
The fighting scenes are described in vivid detail, and she doesn’t shy away from the gory details of battle. I also really admire the world building – the Scandinavian landscape and the rivaling gods are engaging and believable. And have I mentioned that women and girls are just as involved in the battles as the men? And they are BADASS.
Speaking of badass, I absolutely love Eelyn. Often in YA fantasy the heroine is portrayed as bland, boasting a lot about how amazing she is, without actually ever showing it. Eelyn, however, displays potential as a rounded, admirable character from the very first page, as she heads into battle with an axe and a blazing desire for honour.
I also enjoyed the complicated dynamics of her relationship with her brother and how it develops throughout the course of the book. Her relationship with his new family is also really interesting, and I loved Fiske’s little brother Halvard, and his mom Inge, and their developing relationship with Eelyn. A lot of emphasis is placed on family dynamics and relationships, which I appreciated, as you don’t always get to see that in YA fantasy.
There is also touch of romance with Fiske (which means fishing in Danish, LOL). It’s a slow-burn, however, and not the focus of the story. His character starts out as aloof and distant, even a little antagonistic, but the more time Eelyn spends with him, the more we learn about his character and the motives for his actions, and their relationship is ultimately believable and worth rooting for.
Sky in the Deep is a thrilling adventure from start to finish. Interlaced with violence and poignant emotional moments, it delivers a message I think we can all take to heart: war is pointless.