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.
**** Huge thank you to Wednesday Books for sending me a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ****
Apparently I’m in the minority with this one but I just did not enjoy this as much as I should have.The promise of a viking inspired YA fantasy was so exciting but overall I found this to be really, really boring. I honestly feel like I read a completely different book than everyone else.
So prepare for an unpopular opinion!
The beginning of “Sky in the Deep” was amazing, full of action as we meet Eelyn, the MC, as she fights in a battle against the rival clansmen called Riki. It actually gets quite violent and gory, which is expected when reading about a viking-esque battle so I liked it! However, after the first few chapters this action is almost non-existent. Once Eelyn reaches the Riki village she is forced to stay in it’s so painfully boring, we just watch her as she goes about random chores etc. This goes on for pretty much the entire book too. And of course the pacing was just as slow, it’s hard to make chores all fast paced and exciting.
Also the plot….what plot exactly? No. Seriously. What was the actual plot of this story because I sure as hell did not know? There are two rival clans the Aska and the Riki, Eelyn is an Aska forced to live among the Riki. Okay, got that. And what else is there? Oh there’s some bad guys that come along and everyone has to fight them! And that’s it! That’s the plot! I was so frustrated with this because I like a little more substance in my stories and “Sky in the Deep” was just really…..shallow.
And the “bad guys”? What exactly made them the bad guys? They killed people from rival clans? Oh no! Well honey, I’ve got news for you: the Aska and Riki do the same damn thing. So is everyone bad guys? Apparently not. None of this made sense to me, I like to have a bit more explanation sorry.
As for the world building, I liked what little I got but there wasn’t much. The two rival clans each support a god and that’s one a big reason for their fighting and there’s a tiny bit of backstory into the origins of clans. However, why did their gods desire them to fight exactly? What’s their (the gods) beef with each other? Are there other gods? Seriously, why were none of those questions answered?! I would have liked a bit more insight into the workings of their world and I would have liked more viking-ness too.
Since the plot itself is so lacking I would say that this book is more on the character driven side, but I still found the characters to be bland and uninteresting.
Eelyn is your typical strong YA heroine and honestly there wasn’t anything all that memorable or great about her. She was just there to drive the plot forwards with her capture. I wouldn’t say she was a “Mary Sue” or “Special Snowflake” but she was just kind of “blah” and not all that interesting.
Actually NONE of the characters were all that interesting, no one was complex or developed whatsoever. Everyone was completely forgettable and lacked depth of any kind.
Iri, Eelyn’s brother who is supposedly her driving force for most of the book, was so freaking bland. What was so great about him? I could have cared less if Eelyn “saved him” or not. And Fiske, the love interest, give me a break. There was absolutely NOTHING appealing about him whatsoever, unless you count being shot with an arrow and kidnapped as a turn on. Then he’s great.
The only characters a even moderately liked were Inge and Halvard, because a loving mother character and adorable 7 year old character are always going to warm my heart.
While I did appreciate that the romance wasn’t exactly a central focus, it was still present. I liked that it wasn’t full of the usual tropes: insta-love and love triangles, but I wasn’t too impressed by it. It felt like romance for the sake of romance because I felt it came out of nowhere. Why in the world would you fall in love with the grumpy guy who shot you with an arrow and kidnapped you? To each their own I guess. I thought Fiske was a bland, unappealing love interest and there was zero chemistry.
What I Loved:
- What little world building there was
- First few action-packed battle chapters
What I Didn’t Love:
- Non-existent plot
- Slow pacing, no action
- The “Bad Guys”
- World building could have been more developed
- Characters lacked complexity and depth
- The romance was there for the sake of having a romance (also zero chemistry and I hated the love interest)
Overall I’m really disappointed with this one, when you advertise your book as being “viking inspired” I expect lots of brutal action scenes and more world building to really get that viking feel. Not watching a main character do a bunch of chores and fall in love. However, it seems that everyone else on the planet loved this one except for me so go check it out if it sounds appealing to you! I just feel disappointed with myself that I didn’t enjoy this one.