Here is my no-spoiler review of The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young (4 / 5 stars)
I’d like to start this post by saying a massive thank you to Titan Books for gifting me this copy in exchange an honest review. I instantly fell in love with the cover and the title of this novel, I was blown away by the mesmerising cover by Larry Rostant. I think this is definitely my favourite cover art that I’ve seen this year. I also loved the beautiful bag and runestone I received with my book. (pictured above)
“Augua ór tivar. Ljá mir sýn.”
“Eye of the gods. Give me sight.”
Tova is a Truthtongue, meaning she has the ability to cast the rune stones and read them. Ever since she was a child she has lived among the Svell, where she never felt at home. She’d always believed that her people had sacrificed her to the Gods and that the sea had carried her to the Svell. The Svell use Tova’s gift of reading the stones to tell them the fate of their clan as they bring themselves into a war that could change life as they know it. The leaders within the Svell are divided, some wish to maintain the peace whilst others are ready to go to war with allied clans.
Tova encounters Halvard who is the new chieftain of Nadhir, and they both seem familiar with each other but can’t quite recall why. Tova spares his life and starts to question her place among the Svell and whether she wants to execute their demands. Can Tova change the fate of the clans, and finally find herself a home?
‘War is easy. His words echoed in my mind,’
The Girl The Sea Gave Back is the new standalone novel in ‘The Sky in the Deep’ series and it is written from the first-person perspectives of both Halvard and Tova. It also has flashback chapters written in 3rd person.
Tova is an engrossing character and not just because of her ability to read runes. She comes across as quite emotionally cut off until much later in the novel. She’s been through a lot with her upbringing and living among the Svell who all don’t try to hide the fact she is unwanted and hated by them all. Tova is quite skilled with a bow and arrow and really reveals her true self after meeting Halvard.
Halvard is a character from Sky In The Deep who is part of Clan Nadhir, I didn’t fully understand his character or his backstory and I think this falls down to me not having read Sky In The Deep. I prefered reading from Tova’s P.O.V but I don’t think the story would have worked without his perspective. I just feel like I didn’t have much of an emotional attachment of any sort to his character and I’d expect one from one of the main characters. The flashback chapters helped reveal the history of both Tova and Halvard before the events of this novel, which is really helpful as not much is revealed otherwise.
‘I was flesh and blood. I had a face. And most importantly, I could die.’
The Girl The Sea Gave Back starts off very slow-paced and it did almost lose my attention a few times, about halfway through the novel the pace did speed up and it became a breeze to read. I did much prefer the second half of the novel, I just wish the entire novel had been like this. There just wasn’t as much action as I expected from this novel, I read a lot of reviews on Sky in The Deep in an attempt to get a feel of Adrienne’s writing in preparation for reading this book. The action that was included was thrilling and very descriptive which reminded me somewhat of Tolkien’s style of writing.
The Girl The Sea Gave Back was intriguing and I loved the rune stone aspect of the novel as I myself, love runes so it was nice to read a book that included them. I was hanging on the edge of my seat during one of the late battle scenes and I was blown away by the quality of the writing.
I’ve added Sky In The Deep to my ‘to be read’ pile and I will hopefully have a review for that soon! I would recommend this book to anyone who is into YA Fantasy and people who are into the Viking Era. I look forward to reading more of Young’s writing and I think she is a promising addition to the YA genre.
‘Nothing was sure until death came.’
You can buy a copy of ‘The Girl The Sea Gave Back’ on Amazon here. (Affiliate Link)