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Early Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young // VBC ReviewSky in the Deep
Adrienne Young
Published: April 24, 2018 (Wednesday Books)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Every five years the Aska and Riki clans meet in battle on the fields of Aurvanger in what is known as “the fighting season.” This has been going on for generations starting with a clash of their respective gods Sigr and Thora.

Eelyn lives by their clan mantra, Honor above life. That is, until she sees something, or I should say someone, on the battlefield that has her questioning everything. Eelyn’s brother was killed five years ago at the last fighting season, but she sees him now clear as day fighting with the enemy. When she tried to confront him, she’s taken prisoner.

If she wants to survive to make it home, she’ll have to trust her brother’s friend Fiske with her life. Things get further complicated when a common enemy attacks both clans and nearly decimates the Riki. As Eelyn’s feelings for Fiske grow into something she’s not yet prepared to acknowledge, they’ll have to convince both groups to learn to work and fight together if they want a chance at survival.

Eelyn really captures all the characteristics of what a strong female heroine is supposed to encompass. I loved the fact that Eelyn is a warrior in her clan through and through. This isn’t a story where she wishes she could fight with the men, or where she secretly fights with the men hiding her true identity. No, men and women are equal on the battlefield throughout this story, and it was a joy to read.

I loved that Adrienne Young balanced Eelyn’s fierce and stubborn nature really well with her vulnerabilities for her family and beliefs, especially in light of what she sees as her brother’s betrayal of said family and beliefs.

Sky in the Deep does a great job of ruminating on the things that cause conflict between people, or groups of people. I liked that the origin of the hatred between the Aska and the Riki is lost in time, so to speak, it comes across a bit muddled. It’s been so long that, now, it seems the only thing people are fighting for are those who were killed in the previous fighting season five years ago and so on and so on. It’s a vicious cycle that could easily continue until the end of time.

Adrienne Young did a wonderful job of incorporating the romance that builds between Eelyn and Fiske into the bigger picture. It’s understated, yet works well as a companion to Eelyn’s own justifiably conflicted feelings about the Riki. She’s supposed to hate these people, but as she’s around them and learns about them, her beliefs start to change, and it, understandably, scares her.

I would have liked the representation of the clans to be a bit more equal. As it stands the story skews towards the Riki side of things, understandably, but by not giving more page time to the Aska it brings down the impact of Eelyn’s internal struggle. I also wanted to see more female friendships, but I can almost forgive this one as I really like the way Adrienne Young speaks about what makes a family.

Regardless, Sky in the Deep is a wonderful debut that straddles the line pretty well between YA and adult reading. I didn’t want the story to end, but as it is definitely a standalone, I’m sure to pick up the as-of-yet untitled companion novel next year. Look out for this one, folks!

Sexual content: kissing, references to sex

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