Hello and welcome back to another #Norsevember review! Today I'm reviewing Norse-inspired Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Category: Emotional Read
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Rating: 3/5 Stars
Sky in the Deep follows Eelyn, a Viking-inspired warrior who fights alongside her Aska clan against their age-old enemy, a rival clan known as the Riki. It's during one of their clashes that Eelyn comes face-to-face with her brother. The brother who died five years ago. Fighting alongside the enemy.
BEHIND THE SCENES
First off, how cool is a Norse-inspired YA fantasy? As a major Skyrim geek, I am on board with anything Nordic. I was so interested that I did a little digging into the inspiration behind it.
In doing so, I stumbled across a quote from Young in this interview by Dani Hedlund:
"The original idea was a warrior girl on the battlefield who sees her brother on the other side. I didn’t know exactly what kind of setting I was going to do, but I knew I wanted it to be something different—familiar to fantasy but something that hadn’t been done. I also knew that I didn’t want to have to justify or explain the warrior aspect of the girl. So I thought Vikings would be perfect because, in Viking times, women warriors were not an exception to the rule. I felt like it was the perfect fit."
Young mentions she did tons of research into Viking weaponry, culture, religion, and lifestyle, all of which helped create an authentic atmosphere down to the snow-encrusted mountains and freezing seas. However, Young also diverges from the historical by creating her own clans and religions—another Skyrim-esque feature I enjoyed.
I've mentioned in previous reviews that characters make or break a book for me. I can get by on a basic plot and worldbuilding so long as the characters arrest my attention.
Thankfully, Sky in the Deep does just that. I love Eelyn. I love her ferocity, her stubbornness, her pride. I love her willingness to sacrifice everything for the people she loves and her openness to welcoming new ones into her life. I love how emotionally her character is written. The entire book, while peppered with plenty of action and gorgeous imagery, is really about Eelyn's journey to become someone different. You follow her through anger, hurt, vulnerability, strength, and love.
Eelyn's interactions and relationships with the other characters are fascinating. Readers see Eelyn find a new mother figure in the rival clan, to help fill the void of the one she lost. She learns the man her brother has become in the years since she saw him last, and she struggles through heartbreak and anger to forge a new sibling bond. She takes on the role of older sister and protector to a young boy.
And, yes, she finds love, although the romance is largely a background feature to help Eelyn along her emotional journey. The romance blossoms naturally as she begins to warm to her rivals, to the village so much like hers, through her growing fondness of the family she is staying with.
Sky in the Deep has a strong theme underlying the entire plot that comes full circle in the end: do not be afraid of change. Do not be afraid to open yourself to others, to new ideas, to other cultures and religions. In the end, we're all people.
Eelyn sees this through the similarities of her rival clan. She sees them laugh, love, sing, work, and raise children. They cook, heal, hold religious gatherings. They weep for their dead and send tokens with their loved ones so they'll come home safely.
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