Blog Tour - Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young - Review and Guest Post!

Title: Sky in the Deep
Series: N/A
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publication: April 24th 2018
Pages: 352, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Titan Books for sending me this in exchange for a review!
Rating: 3.5/5 cupcakes!

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.
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. 

When I was offered a chance to read this book, I jumped at the chance. The moment I heard about this intriguing Viking-fantasy - complete with a gorgeous cover - I knew I had to read it. I haven’t read many Viking books, but I find that era of history so interesting. I don’t know much about them, but they’re fascinating and fearsome. Sky in the Deep captured that terrifying ferocity, strength and power in this brutal, vivid Viking-inspired fantasy novel.

One of the things that I really liked about Sky in the Deep was the writing. It was filled with complicated emotions, guilt, epiphanies, forgiveness, and love. The writing was filled with heart and the range of emotions and complexity of feelings were profoundly articulated with raw honesty and sensitivity. The author has immense skill in showing the depth of the characters' emotions, instead of just telling the reader. Adrienne Young perfectly balanced description, dialogue, Eelyn's monologue, and action scenes to produce a heartbreaking, heart-pounding novel. The writing was balanced out and the sentences flowed lyrically into one another. There were some sentences that were a punch to the gut and others that had my heart swelling at the depth of the love that the author managed to capture. I really liked the insightful, heart-wrenching writing that was demonstrated in Sky in the Deep.

The first thing I noticed about Sky in the Deep is the violent, brutal world the characters reside in. There are two clans who are warring against one another. Children are brought up to be warriors. They are taught to not cry out, to be stronger, faster, and fiercer. They fight and train, avenge and battle. The author describes the battle scenes with cinematic detail. They're terrifying, heart-pounding and gruesome. I know the vikings were violent, and this author captured that aspect perfectly. There were several times I had to gloss over the action scenes, as the brutality of the clans was written with detail. The author writes with intense detail that catapults the reader into the world.

I loved the detailed atmosphere the author captured. I could feel the stark beauty of the ice-capped mountains and the snow trapped villages. I could smell the scent of the ocean and feel the chilled coastal wind on my skin. I felt the warmth and the love in the cosy nights in front of a fire. I felt the terror and the fight when the characters roared on the battlefield. The author's writing has a quality that transports the reader into the harsh snow-riddled landscape. It's enchanting.

The characters in this book are complex. They are fierce, devastating, brutal; they are loving, protective, loyal. I didn't fall in love with the characters immediately, but by the end of the novel, I loved them. I loved the way they challenged the prejudiced beliefs they had held. I loved the way they showed a human's incredible capacity to love, adapt, and forgive. I loved reading about Eelyn evolving from a hardened warrior with a biased mindset into a girl who was willing to learn, love, forgive and change. Although I did feel quite distant from her in the beginning, I grew to love her. I loved Iri. His heart was open. He was loving and caring and came close to wearing his heart on his sleeve. I loved Fiske too. At first I was wary of him, and I didn't see how the hatred between his clan and Eelyn's could be broken. The enemies-to-lovers trope was done brilliantly in Sky in the Deep, to the point where the changes were so subtle, I didn't notice it until I realised the ferocious love between them. Fiske was compassionate, loyal, protective and kind. By the end of the book, I absolutely adored him. I loved that despite them being Viking warriors they were vulnerable, terrified, compassionate and loyal. They weren't purely blood-thirsty and out for revenge, they had a myriad of emotions and characteristics that made them the people they were.

There were a host of other characters as well that all held deep wells of emotion within them. It's not often that secondary characters are written with such emotion and complexity, but I felt the immensity of the feelings contained in the secondary characters. I understood their mistrust, their fear, their loyalty, and their love. They all had such powerful emotions that were written with perfect clarity. Inge, Aghi, Myra, and Halvard all added so much emotion to the story and were all pivotal in the change in not only Eelyn, but every member of the clans. 

The relationships in this book were heartbreaking, raw, complicated and messy. They were authentic. One of the most complex relationships in this book was the one between Eelyn and her brother. Her brother who had supposedly died five years ago but is very much alive and has joined the enemy clan. Her brother's betrayal stung deep. Her heart was warring against itself. She was happy he was alive but burning with anger that he had betrayed her. Her brother's joining of the enemy clan crumbled all the beliefs she had once held. Before discovering his betrayal, she was confident and certain of her place in the world. Afterward, she began to question everything and that terrified her. 

The author wrote her and Iri's relationship with such emotion. I loved how Eelyn went from feeling utterly betrayed and ferociously angry to understanding and forgiving. I loved watching their relationship grow from one of guilt, bitterness and anger to one of forgiveness, love, and trust. I loved how it showed the depth of love one holds for family. Even if they disappoint you so completely, you can still find it in you to forgive them. You still find you love them despite everything. Eelyn's relationship with her father was also written with so much heart. They cared deeply for one another, were steadfast in their loyalty and her father exhibited a tenderness for his children that I wouldn't have expected from such a harsh warrior. I absolutely loved the complexity of the dynamics and the richness of the emotions between Eelyn, her brother, and her father. It pulled at my heartstrings.

The family dynamics between Fiske, Iri, Inge and Halvard were beautiful and breathtaking. Their warmth, love, compassion and loyalty for one another shone like a beacon amidst the bleak iced landscape that Eelyn now found herself in. It was the warmth in their family that made her realise that they were all the same. It was the beautiful gentleness in their home that made her question whether the rivalry between the clans was just mere outdated foolishness. I also need to mention I loved the bond between Eelyn and Halvard, Fiske's little brother. He was so kind to her. He was a child and he was devoid of prejudice. He didn't understand the rivalry and the hatred between his Riki clan and Eelyn's Aska clan. He was sweet, kindle and gentle and I loved how him and Eelyn developed such a sweet bond.

I also must mention the positive female friendship between Eelyn and her best friend, Myra. It's not often that strong female friendships are represented in YA fantasy. I loved their vulnerability and the depth of their care for one another. Myra and Eelyn were everything to one another. They were each other's family. I adored their friendship.
There was also the romance. It's a slow-burn, one of my favourites. I didn't even realise they were falling in love until I noticed it all, all at once. It felt so incredibly realistic. As a writer myself, I really admired the author's ability to write a slow-burn that unfolded at a steady rate and with realistic emotions. Eelyn and Fiske were fierce enemies and I didn't know how the author was going to show them falling in love. But she did. She accomplished it beautifully. It reached a point in the novel where I wanted to shove Eelyn and Fiske together and yell "JUST KISS ALREADY". I loved the way he took care of her and fought for her. I loved how loyal and caring he was. I loved the way they navigated falling in love whilst having to contend with the animosity between their two different clans. It was written so incredibly well, and I'm also completely in love with Fiske, to be honest. 

The two things that prevented me from giving this book five stars was that this book felt more like historical fiction and not fantasy. The only thing that made this book feel like a fantasy book was the two different gods that created the clans. However, it felt like I was reading a historical fiction book that had emphasis on the vikings' mythological beliefs. I suppose the fantasy elements were fictional clans and the fictional beliefs of how the clans were created. However, aside from that being mentioned, I forgot it was a fantasy novel and not historical fiction. The fantasy element was mainly represented in the fictional war between the clans and the religion of the clans. 

I also would've liked the plot to contain more suspense and thrills. The book picked up pace around 200 pages in. At least, that's when I began to get thoroughly invested in the story and flew through the pages. For a fantasy novel, Sky in the Deep was mainly character driven. It focused on Eelyn's change of heart and her challenging her prejudices and everything she thought she knew. I personally love character driven novels, and although I loved the detail of the characters and their evolution in Sky in the Deep, due to it being fantasy, I would've liked a plot that was filled with a bit more. A large majority of this book was filled with mundane activities and the development of relationships, which, as I've said, I really like. However, if the pacing was slightly faster and the plot more developed, I would've enjoyed this a bit more!

Sky in the Deep is a vivid, brutal, and a heartbreaking Viking-inspired novel. The author wrote with clarity, tenderness and sensitivity. The relationships were complex, raw, heart-breaking and heartfelt. I adored the slow-burn romance and thought it was executed perfectly. The magical atmosphere of a quasi-Icelandic landscape and the harsh reality of the clans' lives made Sky in the Deep a haunting read to fall into. Although I would've liked more fantasy elements, Sky in the Deep is an impressive, harrowing debut novel filled with insightful writing, heart-wrenching revelations and touching moments as prejudice was laid to rest and forgiveness and love ran rampant. I'd recommend it.

I give it: 3.5/5 cupcakes!

- Graphic violence
- Assault
- Animal sacrifice
I wanted to forget him, but maybe I never would. I wanted to let him go, but I might never be able to.
I would fade like a bruise or a memory.
The blood feud that burned in their hearts for me and my people. There was no room for it in that moment. There was only a beginning. And its light hid everything else. It was so beautiful that it hurt, touching every wound uncovered inside of me.
"We've been taught our whole lives that we're different from each other." His eyes met mine. "But we're the same, I think that scared me."

Thank you to Adrienne Young for writing this wonderful guest post! 

I get asked all the time what inspired Eelyn’s story and the answer is actually a
really personal one. The initial discovery in the book is that Eelyn realizes that the
brother she watched die five years ago is not really dead. In fact, he is fighting alongside
the enemy, against his own people. I started off with this bare bones conflict between
siblings, but it wasn’t until I got about a third of the way through the book that I found
out what the story was really about.

In 2016, my entire world fell apart. A series of events really dismantled my life
piece by piece and I was forced to take a hard look at myself and my story. I was in the
middle of grieving the loss of my dad, questioning pretty much all of my beliefs, and
reevaluating what was important to me and why. It was an incredibly painful time of self-
discovery that led me into a revolutionary transformation that changed the trajectory of
my life. Thought they were all things that had been brewing for quite some time, they
hadn’t really grown roots until that year.

At first, as Sky in the Deep started taking shape,
I was really focused on the sibling relationship and the betrayal. But what came to the
surface was so much deeper than that, with Eelyn being put into a position where she had
to dissect her worldview. She has to pick apart all the things she’s been taught and
untangle her own thoughts and feelings from the ones that have always surrounded her.
This is something that we all go through at some point in our lives. We have to
choose to walk the road we were taught to walk or to take an exit and forge our own
paths. Sometimes it’s small things and sometimes it’s huge things. For me, it was almost all things. I had a lot of anger and bitterness about the past and a lot of fear about the

There is no doubt that my process really bled into Eelyn and her journey
throughout the pages of Sky in the Deep. Her story became a place where I was able to
wrestle with those things and it gave me so much comfort and courage in a very dark
time. My subconscious really needed that space on the page.

I will always feel a deep sense of gratitude to Eelyn for that. I am definitely one of
those writers who feel like their characters are telling them the story, not the other way
around. Although I was subliminally projecting my own experience onto her, I really do
have this sense that she helped me. And if she did that for me, I feel like maybe she can
do that for someone else, too. My hope is that people reading the book who are going
through that same moment in life might find some bit of strength and hope like I did.