THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK
SERIES: Sky in the Deep #2
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Historical Romance, Vikings
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.
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Aghi’s fingers twitched at his side, resisting the urge to lift his sword at the ready, and I counted the number of steps it would take for me to get to him if I had to. A bead of sweat trailed down from my brow, stinging my eyes.
“Espen.” Bekan spoke, coming to a stop before them.
But it was a face in the distance that pulled my gaze, a raven-haired figure standing behind the two rows of their warriors. A cloaked girl stood beside their Tala, her eyes fixed on me. The telltale black marks of the Kyrr crept up and out of the neck of her tunic, where an unfolded wing spread across her throat.
The only Kyrr I’d ever seen in my life was Kjeld, Asmund’s man, but I knew the stories told over night fires well. They were a people of mysticism and ritual, their marks holding the secrets and stories of their ancestors. They lived in the fog of the headlands, the borders of their territories drawn with stone statues of their god Naðr and the sun-bleached skulls and tusks of boars.
But what was a Kyrr girl doing with the Svell?
Her head tilted as her eyes narrowed at me and a sting ignited on my skin like the burn of the funeral fire. I shifted on my feet, watching her, and her brow pulled as her hand lifted, her palm pressing to her ear.
“Three days ago, a group of my people attacked Ljós. This act was taken without my consent and in direct defiance of my orders.”
My eyes went back to the men in the center of the glade.
Espen stood like a statue, his gaze unwavering. “More than forty Nãdhir are dead.”
A long silence widened around us, and the race of my heart reignited, watching their warriors carefully.
“This is my brother Vigdis, the village leader of Hǫlkn.” Bekan looked to the dark-haired man beside him who stood so rigid that he could have been carved out of stone. “We hope you will accept this offering of reparation.”
Vigdis reached over his shoulder and took hold of the sword at his back. He slowly pulled it free and the sunlight caught the amber stones forged into the metal as he held it out before him.
It was a valuable weapon. Maybe the most valuable I’d ever see, with a steel blade and jeweled hilt. But offerings of reparation weren’t meant to pay the value of an offense. There weren’t enough precious stones on the mainland to cover the cost of forty lives. It was a symbol. And its power was entirely dependent on the honor of the one who offered it.
“Neither of us want war.” Bekan stood still, waiting for Espen’s answer. “Accept the offering and we both go home without another life lost.”
My attention went back to the girl. She stood motionless, staring at the men in the center of the glade until a piercing call echoed overhead and her gaze snapped up to the sky, where a hawk was circling. Its wings tipped against the wind as it turned and when I looked back at her, her eyes went wide. She took a faltering step forward, her mouth opening to speak before the Tala caught her by the arm, holding her in place.
The Girl the Sea Gave Back is the sequel to Sky in the Deep. This novel is a stand-alone (and it’s being marketed as such) but I think you’ll get more from it if you read Sky in the Deep first. This instalment follows (my sweet baby) Halvard from the first book and a new character Tova, as their two Viking clans go head-to-head.
The Girl the Sea Gave Back is very action-packed and pacy. As with Sky in the Deep, Young throws us in at the deep end — into the middle of the action — and never lets up. For me, this worked slightly better in Sky in the Deep: I felt there was a better balance between action and getting to know the characters. I felt that The Girl the Sea Gave Back didn’t give me quite enough time to get to know Tova, and that my affection for Halvard came more from what I remembered of him in the first book rather than what I saw of him in this one.
The world-building, however, remains incredible throughout. The Girl the Sea Gave Back is completely immersive and the settings are incredibly vivid. I really felt I was right in the midst of the action and able to see the villages of the Svell and the Nãdhir perfectly clearly.
It was also really nice to see the aftermath of the events from Sky in the Deep at a fair distance. Often with sequels, it’s either a few months or a hundred years later. The Girl the Sea Gave Back is set about ten years after Sky in the Deep. It was really interesting to see where the characters and the village politics had ended up.
The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a really fun book, and I went through it at a run. For me, there was just something that didn’t quite connect as much as Sky in the Deep did. However, it’s probably unfair to compare the two and this is entirely personal tastes. There is just some spark missing in this one for me and I didn’t think the protagonists were as brilliant as Eelyn and Fiske. It’s still a really great story though, and a nice addition to the Sky in the Deep universe (which I hope continues to expand).
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