Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Ond Eldr. Breathe Fire.

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.

Synopsis by Goodreads

Sky in the Deep is one of those novels that took bookstagram by force. I later learned it was generally acclaimed along the platform. As it turns out, I wasn’t aware of the novel until I happened to pick it up during Barnes & Noble’s first ever Book Haul Blowout. At the time I was a brand new bookstagrammer whos books were in storage and stored digitally. I popped into my local B&N during the sale to pick up some hard copies to photograph when I stumbled upon Sky in the Deep.

Initially I was drawn in by the cover. I’m a huge fan of simple covers that are primarily black with pops of color. Think Twilight, The Lord of the Rings (circa 1991), and The Night Circus, for example. When I began reading the inside flap I became increasingly more interested. To be honest, I was enraptured by the forbidden love trope. It’s my thing, I live for those tropes (don’t judge me! haha.) I couldn’t possibly put the book down after that.

I tend to not look at books with a critical eye because I know the author worked very hard to write the book sitting next to me. The question I typically ask myself regarding whether or not I enjoyed a book is, would I read it again? In this case, yes. I enjoyed Sky in the Deep immensely.

That being said, as the reader there were a few things I thought could be improved upon.

Primarily, my issue was with the definition of a dyr. I started the novel thinking a dyr was a concubine or a sex slave. Later on, I discovered that a dyr was an ordinary slave. Even then, the lines are still blurred. If a different man had bought Eelyn, like the one who originally wanted to buy her before Fiske jumped in, she would not have just been a slave she would have been a sex slave. Though implied, especially with the collar, at no point did Young ever clarify what a dyr is. I would have appreciated some clarification as it would have prevented unnecessary googling.

Very secondary was the big fight scene between the now united Riki and Aska clans against the Herja. It was supposed to be a monumental battle but it ended up being underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of long, drawn-out battle scenes so I’m not advocating for one. I simply would have liked something more, just a tad more action.

With those issues being my biggest pet peeves, they’re also extremely minor, the novel has way more pros than cons.

I don’t think we can discuss the pros without first discussing the reality of young adult novels. The reality is that they can go from gripping to corny in an instant. By the time I reached page one hundred, not only was it still gripping my attention but the story was flowing organically. Nothing felt forced.

Similarly, the relationship between Eelyn and Fiske didn’t feel forced. They literally start off trying to kill one another on the battlefield. As warriors, there is a mutual respect present. Fiske is acutely aware of Eelyn’s fierceness while Eelyn knows Fiske is a force to be reckoned with. Their relationship develops slowly and subtely in a blink and you’ll miss it fashion. It was in the description of Fiske’s eyes that Young was able to tell us that he was falling in love. While Eelyn vehemently denied her feelings for Fiske while in Fela, she began to soften as they headed to Hylli.

As a protagonist, Eelyn is a total badass. She embodies the themes of the novel (honor, family, trust and, love) in that order. She has the ability to accept, which is something modern day society cannot do. She learns who the Riki are and in turn, she trusts them, not only that, she defends them with her life.

Overall, I found Sky in the Deep to be an incredible read. Adrienne Young wove such a beautiful story that I’m literally obsessed with. Avid readers know that the mark of a good story is when the characters stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

Amanda

PS. In the recently released paperback is a chapter from Fiske’s POV. Swooooon.

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