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.
What piqued my interest in Sky in the Deep is the fact that it’s a standalone fantasy, which is pretty unlikely in this genre. This book is the first Viking story I’ve read, so I went into it not knowing what to expect. I was a bit conflicted about the rating; however, I enjoyed Adrienne Young’s writing, the characters, and the message so much that I decided to rate it 4 stars.
Sky in the Deep is a story with a lot of heart and thematically explores family, honor, and loyalty. The story unfolds when the protagonist, Eelyn, discovers that her brother who she saw die on the battlefield five years ago is not dead. Young doesn’t waste any time introducing this intriguing plot point and like Eelyn, I wondered, “How is this possible?” While there are a few entertaining action scenes, this book is purely about the characters and their relationship with each other. It explores Eelyn’s relationship with her clan, her honor, her brother, and other characters who are introduced later on in the book.
Adrienne Young can write y’all. Adrienne Young’s writing style is mature without being overly flowery, which is wonderful. I admired the way she vividly described the culture of the two clans and marveled at the detailed settings. The world-building was minimal, yet descriptive and I enjoyed the action scenes. The book is grounded in realism and uses fantastical elements sparingly. Honestly, I didn’t notice those elements much at all.
I loved Eelyn’s character development. Young did a fantastic job developing a nuanced main character and depicted a realistic portrayal of the character’s internal conflict. I applaud Young for creating a female protagonist who doesn’t fall into the “unlike other girls” trope and for not reminding us every paragraph that Eelyn is a warrior. Eelyn is a complex character and Young’s writing allows her to be brave and emote simultaneously. We see her fierceness and her vulnerability, her struggles, and physical pain as everything unfolds. Although this book is written from Eelyn’s POV, the side characters were compelling and interesting.
This is something that I’ll probably never say again, but Sky in the Deep was too short. Adrienne Young’s writing and character driven story is great; however, the length leaves something to be desired. It took about 150 pages before I became invested in this story and as soon as I was hooked, it was quickly over. In addition, the plot wasn’t very memorable and the battle at the end wasn’t as significant as I expected. I enjoy enemies-to-lovers trope, but I was a little underwhelmed with the romance. Maybe with more time and development, I would’ve been more invested.Sky in the Deep is a solid debut and Young’s writing is exceptional. This debut novel is significantly better than a lot of hyped books that have been released recently and I look forward to her next project. If you’re in the mood for a character driven Viking story with a lot of heart and slow-burn romance, you might enjoy this.
Have you read Sky in the Deep? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!