Review: The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young (arc)

the girl the sea gave back adrienne young

Title: The Girl The Sea Gave Back  
Author: Adrienne Young  
Series: Sky In The Deep  
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, YA  
Publication date: September 3, 2019 
Rating: ★★★★ 

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

The Nādhir would follow me into the mist of the forest when the sun rose. And only the gods knew if we’d ever come out.

The Girl The Sea Gave Back is a stand-alone companion book and often called a spinoff, but it reads surprisingly like a sequel to Sky In The Deep. It is set in the same village and deals with a largely similar cast of characters, which makes the return to this Viking-esque world both familiar and welcome. Sky in the Deep left me craving for more and so did this book.

In The Girl The Sea Gave Back we follow Halvard and Tova, two youngsters fresh into adulthood from different clans, destined to cross paths and end up on opposite sides of an inevitable war. Their lives couldn’t be more different. While Halvard is a child of peace and chosen to become the next clan leader of de Nādhir, Tova has always been a Rikki outcast living with the Svell. If she hadn’t been a truthtongue, a thread between the living and the future, and cast the rune stones for her enemies, her life would have been forfeit the moment she washed ashore. But the Svell tala, Jorrund, recognised her potential and fought to give her a fragile place within the Svell community. When the power balance shifts, however, Tova’s fate is left in the hands of clansmen who both fear and detest her.

I have always liked Halvard, getting to watch him grow up has been an unexpected pleasure. His personality largely moulded by Fiske, Iri, Inge, Eelyn’s father and Myra, there was no way he would not turn out a fine, strong human being. But getting to know Tova was equally intriguing. I liked who she was and how she dealt with the hardship of having absolutely no one to rely on and having to carry the burden of the rune stones. The story is fast-paced and full of action. As war looms on the horizon and alliances shift, people die and fight for a future that might already be set in stone. 

There are appearances from Fiske and Eelyn and I can’t decide if I loved those parts or if they disappointed me. Because as great as it was to have them return, them now being mere side characters left me unsatisfied. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to these two before and these small interactions weren’t enough. It just wasn’t.

I’m also not sure we needed the flashbacks. It felt as if they were mostly there to give us a piece of Fiske but since we hardly learned anything new in those scenes, I would have preferred a more fleshed out main story. Because that’s something I missed. The book is short and should have been longer. There is not enough room for detail and careful development. It missed something, some of the magic. It’s good but it could have been better, which despite me liking it, also left me somewhat disappointed. 

Adrienne Young’s writing on the other hand, I’m a big fan of. Her words seem simple but they carry weight. They draw people in. I like the way she builds scenes and has a nose for small but significant moments.

If you loved Sky In The Deep, I recommend picking this up. Vikings are fun and so is this world. It’s perhaps not as good as the first book but it’s worth reading and enjoyable. And who knows, maybe there will be a third part that will fulfil all our wildest dreams. A girl can dream, right?

Also both Sky In The Deep and The Girl The Sea Gave Back reaaaaally make want to pick the ‘Vikings’ tv show back up.

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