by Adrienne Young
Published on April 24, 2018 by Wednesday Books
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
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I think I missed the memo on Sky in the Deep because while it was fun and quick, I wasn’t WOWed by it either. First, we have two warring clans, think Viking but in an alternate world. Then add in betrayal, a budding romance, and SOME fighting. And finally you get Eelyn, a character I expected to be more kick-butt than she really was.
For starters, this wasn’t really fantasy. At least, not in the way I think of the genre. It seemed like it was set in a different/alternate world but beyond that there was nothing to really mark it as such. In fact, the publisher could have marketed this as historical fiction and I’d have believed it, not being familiar with the era enough to affect my reading experience. And honestly it was fine not having all those extra magical elements but if I’d known I’d have adjusted by expectations accordingly.
Eelyn had all the makings of a fierce heroine and she was to a degree. She could fight with the best of them and knew how to work an axe on the battlefield, but I barely saw any of that beyond the beginning and end of the book. At the end of the day, she didn’t really stand out against the multitude of other female warriors. Nothing made her extra special. That said, I think Young did a great job with her character development so it wasn’t that Eelyn fell flat in the story from a craft perspective, she just didn’t hold my attention.
In general, Sky in the Deep wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought there would be more action. You give me a pseudo-Viking book and yet there were a few fight scenes at the beginning, a few at the end. . . and that’s it. The bulk of the story followed village life and Eelyn’s emotional development realizing that the clan her people warred with for generations weren’t so different. To be fair, that time in-between was great for character development and I think Young wrote it well, but it comes back to expectations going into the book. I wanted to see Eelyn be both strong mentally and physically throughout the book, rather than showing one strength then flipping to the other as thought they’re two separate things.
All that said, this book stood out compared to the other YA fantasies I’ve read recently. Was it an absolutely amazing book for me? No. But it was good and I liked that it gave Eelyn a chance to be more than just the warrior, even if I felt it was a bit disjointed. Sky in the Deep is a quick read and the fact that it’s a standalone on top of that made it perfect to binge in a night and move on to the next book. I’ll definitely read more by this author in the future and wouldn’t even mind another book set in this world!