This book was sent to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.
26.03.19 / Titan Books / YA Fantasy / Paperback / 352pp / 978-1789091274
Target Audience: Readers who love a good ‘blood-pumping-in-your-ears’ novel that is raw in both emotion and brutality. Great characters that you can invest in, a narrative that will set you on edge and a world as beautiful as it is perilous.
About Adrienne Young
Adrienne Young is the New York Times Bestselling author of Sky in the Deep and the upcoming The Girl the Sea Gave Back. 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.
About Sky In The Deep
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, Eelyn is captured and 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.
Sky In The Deep is a blazing, raw and visceral battle for honour, for family and unity. Adrienne Young grabbed me with both hands and plunged me headfirst into this narrative. Opening on a battlefield, a war between rival clans, the Aska and the Riki are fighting each other to honour their gods and the endless feud the lays between them. Every 5 years, these clans spill each others blood. Eelyn is Aska and she fights for her brother who was taken by the Riki the last time they met on this very battlefield. When Eelyn sees her brother Iri fighting alongside the Riki, she cannot believe her eyes.
When Iri and his new brother Fiske save her from slaughter in battle and take her back to their village, they rob her of her pride and honour. An honour that will allow her entry into Solbjorg and gain a peaceful afterlife with her dear mother. Eelyn has only ever known hate for her new hosts and they feel the same way. Eelyn is torn is every direction. She can’t believe her brother is still alive and doesn’t understand how he is able to call the Riki his family, people she would gladly kill the first chance she gets. Before she can exact her revenge and escape the village, it is attacked by an even more fearsome clan, an all consuming clan that knows no humanity. Eelyn is forced to consider a truce if she ever wants to see her father alive. Can two clans who have fought for longer than history itself unite to survive this savage new threat?
Adrienne Young is an explosive new talent in the Norse fantasy genre and her prose cut deeper than any sharpened axe ever would. I was tense for this whole novel experience. I was right next to Eelyn for every trial, every tribulation and internal struggle. Eelyn’s struggle between her base instinct to kill every Riki on site and her emotional connection to her brother and his new family was intense and hard to watch at times. It was interesting to see how Eelyn wasn’t scared for her life but her honour and her chance to see her mother again in the afterlife. This story is brutal, there is no doubt about that, but the connections between the characters was very well executed and developed and I held onto every thread.
If you like narrative’s with blood, sweat and tears and blazing raw emotions at its heart then Sky In The Deep is absolutely for you. I flew through this book in no time, wanting to see how Eelyn manages to overcome her fears and connect with her enemy. I would love to see Eelyn character again but there is a good chance that this is a standalone story. I saw a lot of hype around this book online before I read it. It is completely justified.
Q&A with Adrienne Young
Thank you Adrienne for taking some time to answer a few questions about your debut novel, Sky In The Deep. It is an outstanding read that I finished in two sittings! Could you give us your own personal overview of what readers should expect within it?
Sure! Sky in the Deep is the journey of a young warrior, Eelyn, who has been raised to fight in a generations-old blood feud between two clans. One day, she sees the impossible—her brother, fighting alongside the enemy on the battlefield. But it’s the brother she watched die five years ago. The story follows Eelyn and her search to find out what really happened the day she saw her brother die and what’s happened since that led him to fight against his own people.
How does it feel to have published your debut novel and let Eelyn and Fiske into the world?
Fantastic. I have always dreamed of publishing a book and I’m so happy that it happened with this particular story. I love these characters so much and I’m so happy to be able to share them with the world.
Where did the inspiration for Sky In The Deep and Eelyn’s narrative come from?
The story really began with that moment in battle, when Eelyn sees her dead brother. At its heart, it’s a sibling story all about family, love, loyalty and the courage to change your beliefs. I wasn’t sure where that moment would take me when I was writing it, but it really had a life of its own.
There is a lot of anger, fear and adrenaline in this novel, did it have an impact on you as you wrote the book?
I feel like it really fueled me to write it faster. I really enjoy writing these big emotions and I love writing action. I feel like it really drove me forward in the manuscript, giving me the energy to finish.
I was amazed by the intense flow of emotion that surges through the narrative, how did you get the balance just right?
I don’t know! I’m glad it feels balanced because it really is such an emotional story. There’s this outer arc of Eelyn learning what happened to her brother, but there’s a really huge inner arc that happens too, when Eelyn has to deal with the betrayal and her ability to forgive him. And in the midst of all of that, she’s being forced to face and question her entire worldview. There’s a lot happening inside of her. Pacing is something I’m really neurotic about when I’m writing and reading and I think the best way to balance all of that internal turmoil is to draw the reader back out of the character and into the world again. Readers need a break here and there to maintain emotional impact.
What challenges did you face building this world and its religious/mythological backgrounds from the ground up?
I had so much fun building this world. It’s very much inspired by the Viking culture, but the religion and social structure is pretty different. I tried to use what was real as a foundation and then just play with it from there. The Vikings were pretty pro-woman compared to other cultures of their time, but I knew I wanted less patriarchal influence than what is historically accurate. I also wanted to create my own gods so that I could have the freedom to write the clan’s histories. I really enjoyed it.
How long did it take you to write Sky In The Deep?
I blew through the draft of this book so fast! I wrote and revised the book in six weeks before I queried it to agents and got multiple offers of representation with it. A month after I signed with my agent, it went to auction with publishing houses. Of course, I worked on it more with my editor before it came out, too. It took many years of trying to be published before that, but when I got the idea, everything just moved so quickly. I usually don’t write that fast, but the idea really took hold of me and I was so inspired that I was literally writing around the clock.
Sky In The Deep is an absolute success but is there a part of the book that you are particularly proud of?
I’m really proud of Eelyn’s courage to change. She has so many deep-rooted ideals and values that were given to her by her clan—the people she loves most in the world. But like all of us, there’s a point where we have to start measuring those beliefs against what we see in the real world. We have to make a choice of our own to follow in our loved one’s footsteps or choose our own path. I wrote this book at a time when I was going through that exact thing and it definitely bled into this story.
Is this the last we have seen of Eelyn? Are there any other projects you are currently working on that you’re able to discuss?
There is another standalone novel coming out in 2019, set in the same world and it follows the story of Halvard, who is eight years old in Sky in the Deep. The book is set ten years later, and we do get to see Eelyn and the other characters again!
Did you always dream of being an author? What authors did you grow up reading?
Yes, it’s been my lifelong dream and writing is the only thing I’ve ever felt truly good at. I grew up reading books like Little Women and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but like many authors my age, Harry Potter was a tremendous influence on me as a writer.
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the writing?
I have practiced yoga for almost fifteen years and it’s a really big part of my life. I’ve dealt with anxiety since I was young and my yoga practice helps keep me balanced. I also love plants and love to study herbalism.
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and it was absolutely wonderful. I walked away feeling really inspired and understood and I would recommend it not only to writers, but anyone creative in any way.
Thank you Adrienne for giving us such epic answers to my questions. Especially telling me that there is another novel coming that features Halvard, that was a most pleasant surprise.