This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
03.09.19 / Titan Books / Viking-Fantasy / Paperback / 320pp / 978-1789091298
Target Audience: For fans of viking inspired fantasy novels that explore fascinating characters facing up to war, fate, leadership and protecting their way of life against all outside forces. If you loved Sky In The Deep then this is for you.
About The Girl The Sea Gave Back
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.
For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again―a home.
My Review of The Girl The Sea Gave Back
‘He blinked, his blue eyes as clear as the cold waters of the fjord. “I’m afraid that one day, after I’ve gone to the afterlife, and my children come to meet me, they will tell me our people lost the peace we found when I lived in this world.” He breathed. “There will always be war, Halvard. War is easy. It comes again and again, like waves to a shore. But I lived most of my life driven by hate, and I don’t want that for my grandchildren. Or yours.”‘
The Girl The Sea Gave Back – Adrienne Young
It felt so good to go back to Adrienne Young’s fierce yet earnest viking world so soon after reading Sky In The Deep. Thank you to Titan Books for giving me a spot on the blog tour and sending me a copy to review.
The Girl The Sea Gave Back is an intense, mysterious and captivating journey that explores how fate is not fixed, how family is not always blood and the importance of not underestimating ourselves. A novel that is both a perfect continuation of the events that followed Sky In The Deep and its own unique introduction into AY’s narrative with a new pivotal character that adds so much more to an already packed story. Adrienne Young’s passion for viking fantasy is absolutely addictive and I powered through The Girl The Sea Gave Back with ease, mainly wishing for it to go on for longer.
The Girl The Sea Gave Back is set a decade after the events of Sky In The Deep and follows Tora, a rare and exceptional young woman who has the ability to read the future, and Halvard, who has barely reached manhood yet is faces becoming the leader of his clan in the face of a devastating new threat to their way of life.
Tora was found washed up in a half-burnt boat by Jormund, the Tala of the Svell clan, at the age of six. Tora grew up believing she was sacrificed to the gods by her parents and that she now has no real family other than Jormund who sacrificed a lot to keep her safe. Tora is feared and despised by the Svell because of her power and understanding of the fate spinners plans, Tora is only kept alive for her ability to read the future in the runes she keeps around her neck.
Tora is a Truthtongue, from Kyrr decent, who can tap into the fate of the world around her. The Svell have unintentionally ignited a war with a neighbouring clan and look to Tora for her insights. What she reveals seals not only her fate but of the whole Svell clan. When the chieftain’s brother goes rogue and plunges his sword into the leader of the opposition, a war is inevitable.
Halvard doesn’t know war. He only truly understands peace. When Halvard loses the man he saw as a father to the Svell clan who had proposed peace yet betrayed them, he is forced to take his first life and sets off a chain of events that brings war right to his home. Halvard doesn’t know how the Svell came across a Kyrr woman but he feels connected to her, like they’re being drawn together. Halvard wonders what her role is in the upcoming fight and what her presence means for him and his clan. When their eyes meet on the battlefield, Tora and Halvard’s own fates become entwined bringing even more uncertainty, fear and hope to the days ahead.
I was going to compare The Girl The Sea Gave Back to Sky In The Deep but, though they occupy the same world, they are very different novels. The biggest thing they have in common is that they are both awesome. Sky In The Deep was raw, fierce and bloody. The Girl The Sea Gave Back is focused more towards mystical elements, humility and connections between people and gods.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t some fantastic battles. Adrienne Young does some of her best story-telling during battles scenes, with the adrenaline pumping and huge moments that struck me extra hard because of all the chaos surrounding them. But both Tora’s and Halvard’s uncertainty brings a new pensive feel to the narrative. Adrienne Young’s first novel felt like a little bubble, with two small clans fighting for their gods. This novel breaks the world right open bringing in new clans, gods and beliefs that all enrich the lore and making it bigger and better.
Tora was a fascinating new central character who I followed with awe. Her story arc is not especially new in terms of fiction but AY has crafted such a special role for Tora that it was easy to invest in her and by the end I only wanted to know more about her and her past. Tora has the biggest struggles and the best revelations and it was great to see her develop as she uncovered more about herself and her kind.
It also was great to see a grown up Halvard! To see him alongside everyone from SITD was strange for about 10 seconds before I fell back into the charm of the family dynamic that AY crafted in the previous story. I actually get emotional about this family, with Fiske, Eelyn, Iri and everyone else just reminding me that families come in all shapes and sizes. They’re bond is so strong it’s amazing.
It was interesting to see a different side to Adrienne Young’s plot format this time around with time jumps back and forth which worked really well to establish both Tora’s true nature and Halvard’s motivation to lead his people. The themes that AY has included are very intriguing and also open up the opportunity for elaboration in future books. Themes like identity, power of the gods, death, bigger threats and the fluidity of fate.
As I mentioned before it is AY’s passion for Norse and viking culture that make these novels extra special. As well as AY’s attention to detail which makes every moment whether it be a fight to death or just standing knee deep in water feel organic and natural. All driving the narrative to its conclusion and, this time around, dropping a huge bombshell at the end that could change the course of the story in any direction. I can’t wait to see how everything turns out in the next installment.
If you haven’t read Sky In The Deep but want to read The Girl The Sea Gave Back then it stands well on its own. But to get the full effect then I would suggest reading SITD first as it adds context to the smaller more intimate exchanges between the characters. Adrienne Young is swiftly becoming one of my go-to authors for viking fantasy because her work is bold, its compulsive and instantly memorable. Connecting with both the writing and the characters is easy, intense and will leave you reeling yet charmed by their bravery. I can’t recommend both novels enough.
About Adrienne Young
Adrienne Young is 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. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun. Adrienne is the author of the New York Times bestseller Sky in the Deep and the forthcoming The Girl the Sea Gave Back.