SKY IN THE DEEP, by Adrienne Young, Wednesday Books, April 24, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
Every once in a while I find myself unexpectedly swept away with a novel. That was definitely the case with Adrienne Young’s debut novel, Sky in the Deep. I read it in one sitting.
Sky in the Deep is a fantasy novel set in the land of Vikings. At 17, Eelyn is already a seasoned warrior. She was raised to fight alongside her Aska clansmen. They come together on the battlefield against the Riki clan with whom they hold an ancient rivalry.
Eelyn is a skilled warrior who never falters, until one day she sees her brother — the one she watched die in battle five years ago — fighting alongside the Riki. Risking her life to discover the truth, Eelyn ends up in the hands of her enemy, forced to live side-by-side with them through the long mountain winter.
There is no greater animosity than that between the Aska and the Riki, but there is a greater threat — the Herja. Among the Riki, the Herja are thought to be legend, but Eelyn knows better. She’s seen the destruction they can bring. So when the Herja raid the Riki village where she is staying, Eelyn’s desperate to return to her family.
Eeyln can’t just up and leave, though. Instead she must trust Fiske, her brother’s friend and warrior in his own right. Together, they must unite their clans or risk the annihilation of both.
Sky in the Deep has a foundation in Norse mythology, which author Adrienne Young researched extensively. And while much of that research included clothing, landscape, weapons and food, Adrienne also spent a lot of time studying Old Norse, which is a dead language and steeped in scholarly controversy. In the end, she turned to her own investigation, and admits she’s not an expert.
From the first paragraph to the last, I was engrossed. Adrienne’s world building is amazingly nuanced. I raced with Eelyn to the battlefield, marveled at the yarrow fields with her and pushed myself through the bitter cold by her side.
Reading Sky in the Deep was a completely immersive and unique experience that comes with the first read of a novel that speaks to you. I’m not sure a second reading will live up to it, but I’m sure going to give it a try.
Sky in the Deep isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot of battle a gore, although it’s fairly tame compared to other fantasy novels. However, if you enjoy narratives taut with action and a little bit of a love story, Sky in the Deep might be the perfect fit. It was for me. I’m already looking forward to the planned companion novel in the works.
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