Review – The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young


**Disclaimer, I was given a free e-ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Also, please note, there are spoilers below for Sky in the Deep.**

Title The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Author Adrienne Young

Description from Amazon

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.

Cover Art

I love the colors of the cover of this book.  The ocean gives a richness to the color scheme that contrasts nicely with the black of Sky in the Deep.  This is definitely a book I would purchase for my shelves at home.

Initial Thoughts

I am obsessed with Sky in the Deep.  It is in my top five of 2019 and was an amazing story.  I love Adrienne Young’s writing style and was so excited when I found out that The Girl the Sea Gave Back is an indirect sequel.  I was so bummed when I missed the initial wave of ARCs on Instagram and I couldn’t find any at Book Con.  I was ready to settle and wait like everyone else for this title when the publisher approved my wish on NetGalley!

Series Value

I think this setting and these characters have a lot of promise.  I love the viking inspired stories and the fact that The Girl the Sea Gave Back is filled with familiar characters and concepts from Sky in the Deep.  I hope Adrienne Young continues with the series.

Also, I’d like to mention that I found a certain element missing from this story so I would like to see it play out in another book.  But, more on that later.

Some Things I Loved

  • References to Sky in the Deep — I was so pleased to see not only the familiar tribes, but the actual characters that I grew to love in the first book.  They are older and wiser now but still just as lovable as they were in Sky in the Deep.  Similarly, I was glad to see the concepts, places, and tribes were familiar and also, expanded upon.  We are introduced to two (three if you count the Riki/Aska hybrid tribe) new tribes in this book, and their connection to the rest of the world gives the entire story a fullness and balance that only enhanced the first book’s setting.
  • Alternating POV — I love alternating POV writing.  I can’t say that enough.  Sky in the Deep was all about Eelyn but The Girl the Sea Gave Back takes us back and forth between Tova and Halvard, often when they are not together.  There is so much story happening and I loved that I, as the reader, could experienced it from both sides.
  • HALVARD — I always thought he was an underutilized character in Sky in the Deep.  I’m glad Adrienne Young agreed.  He was meant for greatness and he finally had his chance to shine in The Girl the Sea Gave Back.

Some Things I Wasn’t Crazy About

  • Plot speed — I thought the entire story was a bit rushed.  Eelyn’s story took place over the course of months while this book was over what seemed like a matter of days.  I wanted more character and plot development.
  • Lack of romance — one of my favorite parts of Sky in the Deep was Eelyn and Fiske’s story.  I felt like that was somewhat lacking here.  We get a tiny bit at the end, but not enough for my liking.  However, I can forgive this if there is going to be another book continuing Halvard and Tova’s stories.

Final Thoughts

This book gave me some much wanted updates of some of my favorite literary characters of 2019 and also prompted so many more questions.  Adrienne Young took an already excellently built world and expanded on it, making it richer and more abundant (which, I think, is a very difficult task).  She has a story line with tons of potential and I would be thrilled to see many more books take place in this world.

Overall, this story was really only missing one thing for me, which is why I can only give it four stars.  Fantastically written, but it came up just short of perfection for me.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell – this book is not released yet, but if you liked Sky in the Deep, you will love Beasts of the Frozen Sun.  Both stories feature a similar setting (Viking-esque times) and similar character development.  Also, from what I’ve read, Beasts of the Frozen Sun is the start of a series.
  • Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller – this is another viking-inspired story with an awesome female protagonist.
  • Onyx & Ivory and Shadow & Flame by Mindee Arnett – this series might not be viking-inspired, but the writing style is quite similar (both are told in alternating POV).  There is also magic, political intrigue, and romance.


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