Janna G. Noelle's Reviews > Sky in the Deep

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
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bookshelves: read-in-2018

When I picked up the hardback of this book, I was surprised at how small and thin it was. In a lot of ways, the story it contained was even smaller.

Sky in the Deep had a really interesting start: during battle, Eelyn—a warrior of a pseudo-Viking clan called the Aska—is saved from being killed by her presumed dead brother Iri, who is fighting for Aska's blood enemies, the Riki. Eelyn's father claims that the Aska’s god sent her brother's spirit to rescue her as a show of honour. However Eelyn is not certain since, although she saw her brother's body lying in a trench with a wounded Riki warrior five years ago, she and her father left Iri's body behind as part of their clan custom.

When Eelyn sees Iri in battle again, she chases after him and ends up being caught and taken captive by Fiske, a Riki warrior. This is the same warrior who had been in the trench with Iri and whose family Iri now considers his own.

After all off this, however, while Eelyn is living in Fiske's house as a slave, the story really slows down, focused mainly on the day-to-day events preparing food, collecting herbs, the rest of the Riki clan hating Eelyn, and Eelyn's feelings of betrayal at her brother having chosen the Riki over the Aska.

Even after both the Riki and the Aska are attacked by a third enemy, the Herja, the story remains slow. Eelyn's efforts to unite the Riki and the Aska, Eelyn's inevitable romance with Fiske, the final showdown against the Herja, and the emotional beats associated with each: all of it is utterly predictable and occurs largely without complication. Even the overall story theme of overcoming prejudices by seeing the humanity in your enemy falls flat because although the Aska and Riki learn to accept each other, the Herja remain an undifferentiated horde of nameless opponents to be ruthlessly destroyed, whatever humanity they might possess neither examined nor unacknowledged. As well, the Aska and Riki are not particularly different culturally, so coming together, however new the experience, doesn’t require a huge compromise of values and expectations.

The portrayal of Eelyn's sense of betrayal by Iri is very well portrayed. So too is the wintery setting—the mountain, the forest, the clear frozen lake that perfectly reflects the moon and stars, and the fjord where Eelyn grew up. Overall, the book needed to be half again as long to allow for more complications as Eelyn and the Aska overcome their hatred of the Riki. More length would have also allowed for the inclusion of more Aska and Riki culture to give greater heft to the story's claim of being inspired by the Vikings. So too would it could Eelyn and Fiske's relationship be slowed, and possibly make less of a factor in Eelyn's acceptance of her brother's choice and the Riki in general.

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Reading Progress

December 8, 2018 – Started Reading
December 8, 2018 – Shelved
December 8, 2018 –
page 194
December 16, 2018 –
page 340
December 16, 2018 – Shelved as: read-in-2018
December 16, 2018 – Finished Reading

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