Since binge-watching Amazon's utterly fantastic TV series, The Viking, I have become obsessively fascinated with all things Norse and Viking mythology, so I literally jumped at the chance to review Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young!
Praised by Titan Books as 'part Wonder Woman, part Vikings', Sky in the Deep follows seventeen-year-old Eeyln, raised to be a warrior and fight 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, Eeyln 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.
Sky in the Deep had me hooked from the very first scene (and it's an epic battlefield scene at that!) not just with Young's fluent writing, but with the unforgettably gripping tale Young has created within the 332 pages.
Young's captivation of the Viking villages, the valleys and the mountains are vividly stunning. A truly authentic world has been created, with beautiful whispers of Viking lores threaded throughout. I've not personally come across any YA literature inspired by this time and it was refreshingly exciting being transported into this historical period. Young's research is evident and well explored across her writing. Young definitely doesn't hold back on the violence and gore, but rightly so, as it adds massively to the cultural accuracy of the Vikings. And whilst a romantic relationship is subtly, yet predictably, ignited between Eeyln and Fiske, personally for me, the heart of Sky in the Deep explores important issues surrounding loyalty, self-identity and survival.
Young's characterisation is well thoughtout, and the character development is progressively delicate but essential. Eeyln is a fiercely strong and driven female protagonist. She's a born and bred warrior, making her wonderfully complicated and emotionally interesting. Halvard was a personal favourite of mine, and the family dynamics and values of the opposing clans are written with such warmth and wonder.
Steeped in history and myth and blood, Sky in the Deep is an impressive debut and a thrilling must read novel of 2019!
I was really lucky to get the chance to interview Adrienne Young to support her epic blog tour arranged by the wonderful Titan Books!
An Interview with Adrienne Young
What was the inspiration behind setting it during the Viking era? And what kind of research did you undergo during the writing process?
I didn’t plan for Sky in the Deep to be Viking inspired, but as I started drafting the story, it began to take that shape. I did a ton of research about Nordic history, religion, and culture. It was a really fun process because I actually enjoy research. I was able to use some of my favorite discoveries as a foundation for the book.
What historical era would you love to write about next?
There are so many! I think Rome would be really fun.
Titan Books has praised your novel as perfect for fans of folklore, fairytales and historical novels. What are some of your favourite lores and legends?
I am a lover of just about any kind of legend. I grew up reading Native American lore and studied some African myths and legends in school.
Sky in the Deep is your debut novel; do you have any tips or advice for someone writing their own debut?
I think my only advice is to try your best to make sure your debut represents you and your storytelling well. It can be easy to try and fit the mold people want you to fit because you want to be accepted in the book world. But in the end, you have to stand behind your work.
Eelyn is a brilliantly thought-out character – she’s fiercely brave and loyal, and emotionally passionate. Where do you get your inspiration to write your characters?
Honestly, I wrote a lot of myself into Eelyn. Growing up, I felt like a lot of my strong qualities weren’t accepted. I was encouraged to soften and water myself down. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really started to love those things about myself and celebrate them. Eelyn isn’t literally based on me, but I definitely let a lot of things bleed into her from my own personality and experience.
If you could have any actors to play Eelyn and Fiske, who would you cast?
I don’t know!!! I never know the answer to this question because I have no idea who could actually convincingly portray them. It’s hard to imagine when they were born in my head.
Whilst this action-filled fantasy is filled with cinematic battles and bloodshed, Sky in the Deep also explores a number of current world issues, including prejudice, war themes and religion/beliefs. If readers were to take away one thing from your book what would you want it to be?
That it’s okay to question what you were taught by the people you love and trust. And even though it’s really, really hard, choosing your own path is 100% worth it.
The Girl the Sea Gave Back, a companion novel to Sky in the Deep is out in September! Are you able to give us a sneak idea of what’s to come?
The Girl the Sea Gave Back follows Halvard ten years after Sky in the Deep. He’s eighteen years old and playing an important role in the landscape that develops after Sky. He’s very different from Eelyn, so it was really cool to see that same world through his eyes. His path crosses with a new main character and we delve deeper into the spiritual beliefs and mysticism of the people.
What else is on the horizon for 2019 for you?
I’ll be travelling quite a bit (big news coming!) finishing up my new book, Fable, and drafting its sequel, Namsake!
And finally, I have to ask, what are your favourite books at the moment?
Recent favorites have been The Wicked Kind and Wicked Saints.
And, if you could invite any five people – past and present – to a dinner party, who would you invite and why?
Jo March, because she had a huge impact on me as a kid.
JK Rowling, because I have a lot of questions for her.
Aaron Franklin, so that he can make us barbeque.
Kelly Barnhill, so she can tell us all stories.
Florence Welch, to sing and also just because she’s had a huge influence on my writing.
A massive thank you to the wonderful Adrienne for taking the time to answer my interview questions ahead of her busy blog tour and a big thank you to Titan Books for sharing Eeyln and Fiske's story with me for an honest review.
Be sure to follow the blog tour on its way!