Title: The Girl the Sea Gave Back
Author: Adrienne Young
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.31 (of 99 ratings)
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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.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Wednesday Books via a Goodreads giveaway. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
I’m going to tell you straight up: this isn’t on Sky in the Deep‘s level. It totally has the same magical feel and Young’s dreamy-like writing that transports you to the Viking inspired world. However, it doesn’t live up to the Sky in the Deep expectations, so lowering them (like I did after seeing so many so-so ratings) might help a bit.
The writing was still there for me. I don’t quite know how to describe the atmosphere and mood that Young creates, but it certainly transports me into the world of Svell, Kyrr, and more. It felt lush and beautifully done, and I’m right down in the fjord, fighting along with the clans and praying to the gods. Although, like, if at home you mean hiding in a forest somewhere because fighting is scary, then, yup, totally at home. Young definitely works some magic with her writing, and I certainly will be picking up any books written by her. It was easily my favorite part of the story.
I was really drawn to the characters in Sky in the Deep, and this one focuses on a new one and an old one. I liked Tova. She certainly goes through a journey, and she was easy to root for. She had depth to her, and she certainly sees what her actions bring. I, for sure, enjoyed reading her voice. There was still a disconnect with her, since I was never truly truly invested in her? I mean, I rooted but I felt like I could have really done more. And the other main character? I just never connected. I felt like a lot of characterization was lost from the first book to this one (overall but specifically for the second main character), and he was just a Gary Sue. He was just defined as a hero, and I wanted far much more. This was the biggest issue for me, and why I struggled the most in this story.
The plot was interesting for the most part. This story features a lot more on the magic, and while it still does feature warring clans, it takes on a different take than the first book. I totally loved how much more magic was included in this one. It was so intriguing, and just brought so much more to the world than was before. I was so immersed. At times, I enjoyed it, and I was invested. Other times, I was found myself quite disinterested and disconnected. I would sit it down for days to not pick it up. I’m not sure if it was the pacing or because I had seen this plot a few times? Young still did it well, and even though I really did see a few things coming, I was intrigued enough to keep going.
I wasn’t a fan of the romance due to how little we got of a lead up. For the longest time, I thought there wasn’t going to be any, but then it all happened so fast like it was smashed together because it was “needed.” Like, I really felt zero connection between them, and like, it was okay? I also felt like the whole ending part for Tova was a bit haphazard as well, and like, I saw it coming a mile away.
Overall, though, it was a pretty solid read, despite all of my complaints, lol. There were parts that I massively enjoyed: the mood/atmosphere, Tova’s character, the magic in this brilliant world. But there were some pitfalls that really did bog the read down for me. I enjoyed, but it could have been better, for sure, and it certainly wasn’t up to Sky in the Deep’s level of love for me.
rating: Jasmine because the hype didn’t quite match my own thoughts
content warnings: violence, death of important side character
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!