Exclusive: Adrienne Young Shares an Excerpt from 'The Girl the Sea Gave Back'

Posted by Marie on May 14, 2019
Last year, author Adrienne Young entered the YA world with her beloved Viking-inspired debut, Sky in the Deep, which was nominated in the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards. This September she plans to release its companion novel, The Girl the Sea Gave Back, which introduces readers to a new heroine named Tova, who has been living among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift to see the future.

Here Young tells fans what they can expect from her new novel (including whether they'll see some familiar faces from the first book) and shares an exclusive excerpt.

Goodreads: How does it feel to return to the world of Sky in the Deep?

Adrienne Young: Returning to the Sky in the Deep world was like going home. I absolutely love the atmosphere—the cold, the fog, the gray sea. I had so much fun living on the mountain and in the fjord with Eelyn as I wrote book one, and in book two we go a little outside of those territories and explore some new ones with Halvard and Tova.

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GR: Can fans expect to see characters from your first novel making an appearance?

AY: Readers will get to see almost all of the old faces from Sky in the Deep! The story definitely belongs to Halvard and Tova, but as anyone who read Sky knows, family is at the very core of identity in this world. I couldn't write Halvard's story without Eelyn, Fiske, Iri, and the others.

The challenges we see the characters face in The Girl the Sea Gave Back really spring from the evolution that's happened politically. In the book we really look at the nature and pattern of war and violence, and the way it always returns.

GR: Your new heroine, Tova, has a very unusual gift. What can you tell us about her?

AY: Tova is a Truthtongue—someone given the gift of casting the rune stones to see the future. She essentially uses this gift to keep herself alive among people who think she should be dead. She is so different than Eelyn!

Where Eelyn is always so strong and never hesitates, Tova is learning to be strong and trying to figure out how to navigate the very delicate ecosystem she exists within. She is much more calculating and strategic when it comes to conflict, and she takes longer to muster the courage for what has to be done.

GR: What can you tell us about the excerpt we're about to read?

AY: This is one of my favorite excerpts in the story because it's right after Tova realizes the full weight of the impact her gift has had on innocent people. She's casted the stones to keep the Svell chieftain from killing her, but the ripple effect is devastating.

She's also confronting just how alone she is. No one is going to save her. No one is going to look out for her. Her only ally is showing his true colors, and she is completely on her own. There's this reoccurring theme in the story of a kind of undead soul—a spirit just wandering the earth. Tova really gets in touch with that here and asks herself the question that's been whispering in the back of her mind for as long as she can remember. It's a really important moment in her arc.

Excerpt from The Girl the Sea Gave Back

"Are you sure?" Jorrund leaned in closer to the fire, his eyes wide with concern. They gleamed beneath his bushy eyebrows as he studied me.

"Yes," I answered, watching the pillar of smoke lifting from Bekan's funeral fire in the distance.

The pyre was engulfed in fire and I could just barely make out the form of Bekan's body as it was eaten up by the flames. A lump curled tight in my throat and I blinked back the tears threatening to fall.

I didn't know why my heart ached at the thought of his death. Bekan had no more than tolerated me in the years since I'd come to Liera and when Vera died, he'd made no secret of the fact that he’d come to hate me. But I remembered how soft he was with his daughter. How his hand absently reached out, touching her fair hair as she stood between him and Jorrund. And even if I wasn’t one of his people, I could feel the weight of what the loss meant. Something had shifted for not only the Svell, but for the web of fate. And for the first time, I was beginning to feel like a fly trapped in its threads instead of the spider walking them.

I had only summoned the Spinners once before. I'd snuck away in the early morning to burn the henbane on the same beach Jorrund had found me on. I huddled over the poisoned smoke until I was close to retching and asked the only question I'd ever had.

I wanted to know why.

Why my people had given me to the sea. Why Naðr had taken her favor from me. Why I'd washed up on the Svell shore instead of drifting out into the lonely death I'd been sent to.

That was before I knew never to ask the Spinners why. Because the answer was something too twisting and turning for mortal minds to comprehend. They sat at the foot of the Tree of Urðr, spinning. Always spinning. Past, present, and future all on the same loom.

"It wasn't the only thing I saw," I whispered, careful not to let Gunther hear me.

Jorrund sank down before the fire. "What is it? What did you see?"

I closed my eyes, trying to bring the vision back to my mind. "The water. A fire. I could hear…"

But heavy footsteps in the dirt made us both look up and I squinted against the pain that awakened in my head. Vigdis walked toward us from the glade, the fire still raging behind him. His muddy boots stopped before me, planted into the earth like the roots of a thousand-year-old tree.

"Tell me," his voice was rough, his face still streaked with dirt and soot. Siv found a place beside him.

"He's in Utan."

"How do you know?"

I pressed my palm to my forehead, breathing through the ache between my eyes. "Because I saw him."

Vigdis stared at the ground, unblinking. "Then we go to Utan."

Siv and Jorrund both looked up, surprised.

"Get them ready," he ordered.

"I'll go," Siv offered. "I'll take ten warriors and meet you before you reach Hylli."

But the edge in Vigdis' voice deepened. "We all go to Utan. Together."

The look on Siv's face turned from confusion to concern. "All of our warriors have arrived, Vigdis. We should move on the fjord and take Hylli. Now. There’s no need to waste time with the border villages."

“We go to Utan. Then we go to Hylli.”

"You don’t need an entire army to kill one man.” I stood, wavering on unsteady feet.

He turned, towering over me until I was hidden in his shadow. "Speak again, and I’ll cut your tongue out," he snapped. "I don't want to only kill one man. I want him to watch us slaughter every soul in Utan before we kill him." The words suddenly took a soft, unnerving tone.

"You asked me to find him. Not tell you which village to attack."

"There are no warriors in Utan. They've called them to Hylli." Siv seemed to agree, but Vigdis’ sharp look silenced her.

Behind them, Gunther appeared the most unsettled. He stood with his arms crossed over his chest, watching Vigdis warily.

My stomach turned, my skin suddenly stinging against the fire’s heat. Jorrund's arm steadied me as the glade tipped to one side and I leaned into him, almost tumbling to the ground.

"Hylli will still be there when we reach the fjord. They’ll wait patiently for their deaths because they have no other choice."

He was right. There was nothing else to do unless they ran. And it wasn’t likely the Nādhir would. But the expression that crossed Siv’s and Gunther’s faces looked as if they’d already seen more blood spilled than they wanted to. The Svell were fighters but this wasn’t a generation built on battle. They’d defended their homes and their lands from raiders and thieves, but it had been more than a hundred years since they’d been at war with another clan.

Siv had taken Ljós with Vigdis and the others and she’d cut down the Nādhir in the glade. I wondered if she was willing to destroy another village of old men, pregnant mothers, and children not old enough to hold up a sword.

“We go to Utan. Now,” Vigdis said again, and this time, Siv answered the command with a tight nod.

She turned on her heel, headed back to the Svell gathered before the funeral fire, and Vigdis set his attention to Jorrund. “She better be right.”

Jorrund looked at me, and I could see that he was thinking the same thing. He was wondering. Doubting. He had only the power I gave him and that realization had given way to fear—something I had never really seen on the face of the old Svell Tala.

He twisted his fingers nervously into the wooden beads strung around his neck and I turned, pushing through the Svell making their way to their horses. The fire was still raging, but I could no longer see Bekan. He had disappeared, the ash floating up into the air the only thing left of him in this world.

It was an honor that the Nādhir warriors lying in the trees would never get. They’d have to rely on the sympathies of their gods and the prayers of their people to take them to the afterlife. The same fate would find the young Nādhir who’d killed Bekan, along with every living thing in Utan.

At my word.

The prophecy that had moved over my tongue. Just like the glade.

I’d only ever watched the funerals from the forest, when the people of Liera gathered to send their dead to the afterlife and I didn’t remember enough about the Kyrr to know what words they spoke or what customs they performed. I eyed the circular symbol on the inside of my wrist, tracing it with my finger. If I knew what the marks meant, maybe I would remember. Maybe the things I’d forgotten would return to me.

The smell of burning flesh and sizzling tree sap filled the air and I stood before the pyre alone, unable to feel its warmth. I was only cold. Deep inside my bones. In every shadowed corner of my soul.

The little house outside Liera didn’t seem like a cage now. It seemed like a refuge. One that I couldn’t reach.

My stiff muscles trembled, sending a tremor through my entire body as the poison moved deeper through my veins. Maybe this was what the undead spirits were like, the ones that filled stories. But I wondered if maybe they weren’t stories after all. Maybe I was one of them. Flesh and bone on a corpse with no soul.

The weight of the rune stones hung heavy around my neck, pulling me forward, to the fire.

For a moment, I wondered if I’d even be able to feel it if I reached out and touched it. If I wrapped myself in its flames like a golden cloak. Maybe death would just feel like going home.

I watched the flecks of white ash floating up from the pyre before me, dancing in the air like lifting snowflakes, and I thought the thing I’d been so careful not to. The words I was afraid could come to life and strangle me. Make me disappear.

That I was the one who'd put Bekan on the pyre, not Vigdis. Just like Vera. And by the time the Svell reached the sea, I'd have a lot more blood on my hands.


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Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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message 1: by Holly (new)

Holly Jones I can’t wait to read this! I’m am so excited to dive into this Viking world again!

message 2: by Kyra (new)

Kyra I need this book! I cannot wait! I’m so excited!

message 3: by Kyra (new)

Kyra I need this book! I cannot wait! I’m so excited!

message 4: by Daymaly (new)

Daymaly Rodriguez Ohh I need a copy now !

message 5: by Clara Kuck (new)

Clara Kuck Can't wait!

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I connected so deeply with Sky and Eelyn. But I’m already feeling a kindred call from Tova. Can’t wait to go on this journey. 🖤

message 7: by Kenia (new)

Kenia Oh man I want to read more!! I’m excited to read this ASAP thank you for the opportunity to read an excerpt to the girl the sea gave back. I’m very excited for this!!

message 8: by Chanel (new)

Chanel Krivanek Can’t wait 🖤

message 9: by Wiwi (new)

Wiwi Meléndez I lover Sky in The Deep and I’m pretty sure I’m going to love The Girl The Sea Gave Back too!!

Maddy (maddyandbooks) So excited!!

message 11: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle omg im so excited!

message 12: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Jones Thank you so much for allowing me to read this excerpt from your new novel! I’m so stoked to get this book in my hands and read

message 13: by Riddhi (new)

Riddhi Very very excited to read it!

message 14: by Cami (new)

Cami my gods I want this book so bad. it seems so good!

message 15: by Danise (new)

Danise Bautista I can't wait to read this. After reading Sky in the Deep, I was hoping for another book but then here it is.

message 16: by Heather (new)

Heather I don't feel like the release date will ever get here -- I'm so excited!!!!

message 17: by Chinelo (new)

Chinelo Chidebe Omggggg I can’t waitttttt. Loved the read!

message 18: by MoonAkacia (new)

MoonAkacia I'm so excited and can't wait!

message 19: by Celina (new)

Celina I‘m so excited 😊

message 20: by Kate (new)

Kate Myers Yessss!

message 21: by Korina (new)

Korina Breathlessly anticipating the book...Thank you for sharing the exclusive!

message 22: by Tralicia Brown (new)

Tralicia Brown So excited to

message 23: by Magnus (new)

Magnus love it!

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