July 18, 2024

Adrienne Young’s stunning debut novel, “Sky in the Deep,” tells the story of an ancient rivalry between the Aska and the Riki; each clan believes in a different god, which sparks the fighting that happens every five years.

Eelyn, an Aska, was on the fighting fields the day her brother, Iri, fell into a crevasse, his insides spilling out.

In the five years that have passed since he was assumed dead, Eelyn and her father have mourned his loss. Which makes it all the more shocking when, during the next fighting season, Eelyn is saved from certain death by her dead brother; the same brother who is now fighting with the Riki.

As the Riki sound a retreat, Eelyn follows, desperate to talk to her brother. She gets captured and is taken to their home village of Fela, where she becomes a servant to the Riki who saved Iri’s life the day he almost died.

Wrestling with her pride, Eelyn must survive through the winter so she can make it back to her father.

But even this is threatened when the village is attacked by the Herja, a clan of shadows who attack villages at random, taking hostages that they sacrifice and killing many. The Herja also are responsible for the death of Eelyn and Iri’s mother.

With no other option available, the Aska and the Riki must settle their centuries-long feud to work together to defeat the Herja.

This fantasy novel has so many positives. First, the characters are extraordinarily well-written, and I enjoyed watching them develop over the course of the story. Eelyn experiences so much and grows so much. Young manages to take her character and twist it into a better version. Even the side characters are convincing in their roles. For instance, when Eelyn is taken back to Fela, the Riki (most of which the reader never meets) don’t know her, but they hate her simply because she’s Aska. This shows how deep this rivalry runs.

Second, the plot flows well. There wasn’t a single instance where I was bored. The plot develops in a way that the reader is eager to see how it ends. One of my favorite parts were the action sequences, of which there were many. I found that, sometimes, the author gets so wrapped up in trying to hit just the action, but Young goes into enough detail that it’s easy to visualize the scene as it’s happening. As I closed the book when I finished, I couldn’t help but hope for a sequel.

This is easily the most recommendable book. Ever. It appeals to fans of epic fantasy, slow-burn romance and Norse myth, which may or may not have been an inspiration for this. I once tried to describe this story to someone and I do believe I said that it’s “a combination of ‘Brave’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ but a little darker.”

I honestly think everyone and anyone could and should devote the time to reading “Sky in the Deep.”

Overall, 5/5 stars.

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