Sky in the Deep is a Viking-inspired tale, following the steps of Eelyn, a fierce and devoted warrior. Her clan, the Aska, worship the god Sigr and, according to his will, they fight their enemies, the Riki, the ones who worship the goddess Thora, every five years. This ancient blood feud has filled the hearts of the Riki and the Aska with ingrained hatred, but the fates of the two people are interwined in a way no one could predict. During a battle, Eelyn sees her brother, Iri, who was supposed to be dead, fighting alongside the Riki, and later she is captured by them and kept as a slave by Iri's Riki family, in order to protect her long enough to escape. Even though Eelyn was bred to kill Riki, the longer she spends time with them, the more she realises that maybe there are not so different after all. And that there is another, terrifying enemy, the enemy that comes out at night and sheds oceans of blood, that needs to be defeated, before both the Riki and the Aska perish.
“Vegr yfir fjor.
Honor above life.”
Sky in the Deep is a heartbreakingly beautiful story. Adrienne Young's words were arrows, piercing and hooking my entire existence. There were a sword, cutting any attachment to reality and the surrounding enviroment, ensuring my utter focus and attention. There were an axe, scattering my reserved expectations and skyrocketing them into the sky. I read Eelyn's story with a deep reverence, I felt humble before the magnitude of Adrienne's soulful, poetic writing, and her rare ability to bring words and sentences to life, to make you absorb images, smells, sounds, and feelings as if they were your own. The way she described daily chores, like cooking, and gathering herbs, managed to transport you next to her characters. The occasional gruesome scenes, and the battle frenzy that made your stomach churn, awakened every cell in your body, all of them tuned to the drama unfolding before you. And the romance, the wonderful, slow-burning romance, made your heart yearn and ache in a desperate need to grasp the love that was all-consuming. In a frozen lake, where the night sky was reflected on the ice, making it look like the sky was in the water, I realized that I gave my heart to this novel, something I hadn't felt in a while, and my eyes were wet from the hot tears that escaped in the light of this realization.
“If I wanted to, I could kill the three of them right now. I could set this field of yarrow on fire and let myself burn with it.”
Featuring intense battle scenes, badass Vikings and strong, well-portrayed characters, marvelous world-building and ideal pacing, Sky in the Deep is an enthralling, deeply enchanting debut. Matters of religion and honor are examined in a subtle way that is not preachy, and the bond of family, both by blood and by choice, is thoroughly explored, breaking and mending every piece of me. The entirety of the story was simply breathtaking. Eelyn became one of my favorite heroines, she is truly rare, and an example of how YA heroines should be written. She is fierce and independent, but she is also vulnerable and broken, she faces a reality where her enemies are not so different after all, and at first she can't cope with it. Her narration is a poem, the anger, the relief, the disappointment, the pain and the love she felt, I felt them too down to my very core. I shared her thoughts, her emotions, and the conflict that raged inside of her and ravaged her mind and her heart. The betrayal and the hurt she went through were devastating, she just found her beloved brother only to realize she'd lost him to the enemies of her people, and as a result, I suffered from her burden.
“I'm thinking that I wish you'd die that day.”
Adrienne Young does not elaborate on small-talk and unnecessary dialogues. Every word whispered or shouted is meaningful, and the profound tethers between the characters tangible. The enemies-to-lovers romance made my soul sing with its beauty, it intensified the story without overshadowing it, it started as a sparkle and turned into a conflagration that enveloped me in its warmth.
Sky in the Deep is a stunning debut, a bloody saga and an ode to love, family and friendship. Do NOT hesitate to give it a chance!
*ARC generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*