Sky in the Deep by Adrienne YoungSky in the Deep by Adrienne Young fantasy book reviewsSky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Eelyn lives only to fight with her father, her best friend Mýra, and the rest of the Aska clan against their mortal enemies, the Riki clan. Every five years, the clans meet on the battlefield and do their very best to slaughter one another, then return home with the survivors to heal their wounds and train for another five years. Eelyn doesn’t question why the Aska are bound up in this eternal blood-feud; this is how things have always been, this is how they will always be, and the best death Eelyn can imagine is in battle against the Riki. Should she die ingloriously, however, or be captured as a slave, she will be denied entrance into the Aska afterlife, and will lose all honor.

Her older brother, Iri, died while fighting the Riki five years previously, so when Eelyn sees him fighting alongside the Riki, she becomes obsessed with determining whether it’s really him, and if so, why he would abandon their people. But the Riki capture and enslave her, and while living among them, Eelyn begins to question the rituals and mythology she’s taken for granted her entire life, and to wonder whether the Aska and Riki are so different after all.

Sky in the Deep (2018) is definitely Norse-influenced, and Adrienne Young seems to have taken a lot of cues from the Vikings television show while creating her own cultures, languages, and customs. Fight scenes are visceral and well-written, and there are a few quiet moments that are quite striking in their depiction of the natural world.

Adrienne Young

However, Eelyn’s transition from bloodthirsty warrior to reluctant diplomat was far too quick, and didn’t feel like a natural evolution. There’s an element of master-slave insta-love, as well, that isn’t made any less uncomfortable by the later equalization of the parties in question. Mýra’s reactions to developing events were far more credible and realistic, and I think the novel would have benefitted from seeing some of the passage of time through her eyes as a contrast to Eelyn’s.

The Aska and Riki have a shared enemy, the Herja, and here again I think Young missed an opportunity to deepen the story and provide more to her readers: there are whispers and rumors of something supernatural about them, but nothing really comes of it other than shifting Eelyn’s concept of The Feared/Hated Other from the Riki to the Herja. Ultimately, I wanted something meatier, but YA readers who are looking for a star-crossed love story with thrilling and blood-soaked action scenes should give Sky in the Deep a try.

Published April 24, 2018. A 2018 Most Anticipated Young Adult book that is part Wonder Woman, part Vikings―and all heart. OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE. 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. 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.


  • Jana Nyman

    JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but now makes her home in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisin, and Seanan McGuire.