‘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.’
Sky In The Deep is the debut novel from Adrienne Young, and focuses on a young viking warrior, Eelyn, and the events that befall her over one winter. Designed from the outset to be a fierce, strong character, readers spend the first chapters seeing Eelyn in battle against the rival Riki clan. She proves to be a capable warrior, cutting down enemies just as well as any male action hero.
Despite this, Eelyn is more than just a warrior, and the majority of the book is given over to slowly revealing more and more of the caring young woman that lies inside the fighter. A lot of books, especially young adult fiction with a female lead, tend to make an opposite journey, with a young woman having to become a fighter and hero; as such Sky In The Deep makes for a refreshing change as this is thrown on its head.
READ MORE: Fleet of Knives – Review
Eelyn is slowly broken down by the events of the book, and a few of the earlier scenes where she is wounded and forced into slavery are some of the most traumatic moments of her life. Thankfully, these experiences don’t break her, and instead allow her to grow as a person, going from a woman that hates the Riki, to someone who sees that they are very much like her, that they are people with loves, fears, and passions.
This is what the core of the book is about – showing that despite differences, of generations of hate and fear, people are still people. They have families, they have feelings, they’re often the same as you. This becomes even more obvious as the book progresses and the Riki and Aska have to put generations of bloodshed and hate behind them in order to unite in order to defeat an even bigger foe.
READ MORE: Firefly: The Magnificent Nine – Review
It’s not just Eelyn that we get to know though, as we are introduced to several Riki and Aska. The characters that populate the world of Sky in The Deep, like Eelyn, are more complex than you are initially led to believe. There’s the Riki warrior who appears to be cold and uncaring, but is an honourable and loving man; the mother with the harsh exterior who is capable of deep affection; and the young boy who dreams of being a warrior, yet holds a gentle soul.
Adrienne Young has managed to craft a living and breathing world, with characters that have real motivations and complexity. You come to care for the people that inhabit this world, even those you begin the book disliking. It’s a story that is filled with brave warriors overcoming immense odds, but the heart is the people, their relationships, and their capacity to learn to love. Sky In The Deep isn’t your normal YA book, it stands out from the crowd and will soon become a firm favourite for any reader.