The Girl the Sea Gave Back

The Girl the Sea Gave Back


Author: Adrienne Young

Publisher: Wednesday Books

First Published: 3 September 2019

Rating: 4.5 stars

Professional Reader


“Eye of the gods. Give me sight.”


I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own. Thank you so much to Wednesday Books and NetGalley!

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.

I am so ridiculously glad that we got another book in this world. This is all ever wanted since I finished Sky in the Deep.

This book takes places 10 years after the events of Sky in the Deep and follows Halvard, who is the younger brother of Fiske and Iri. The Aska and Riki clan have found peace and formed a new clan called, Nadhir. I adore that this isn’t a direct sequel and does stand-alone. If you’re not interested in reading the first book you don’t necessarily have to — but also do read it because it’s all kinds of awesome.

The story is told in dual perspectives from, Tova and Halvard, which means that you get to see the events from both sides. It’s told in both the present day with a few flashback chapters. I adore the addition of these flashbacks. They provided extra context — how Tova, a Kyrr girl, ends up casting runes for the Svell and how Nadhir people have come together. They are only introduced when it’s relevant to the narrative.

Adrienne Young has this stunning way of bringing the Viking culture to life. Their belief and gods are effortlessly woven into every aspect of this story. There is an atmospheric quality to the writing and I can’t help feeling like I’m living it. The battle scenes had my heart racing. They are messy, chaotic and, much like I imagine a real battle would be like, quickly become just a matter of survival.

Through Tova, we see more of the religious side of the Viking culture. She is a truthtongue, a kind of seer, from the Kyrr clan and uses runes to forecast the future. Tova’s history is heartbreaking. She’s lead to believe she was abandoned and is used by the Svell’s religious leader to help cement his power. She is hated by them and is often under threat, but she wants desperately to fit in. She fights tooth and nail to stay alive and is conflicted about where her loyalties should lie. Is it with the people she’s known her whole life? Or those the Spinners of fate are drawing her towards?

I am thrilled that we get to see more from Halvard. He was one of my favourite characters in Sky in the Deep. He’s now all grown up and heir to the Nadhir clan. He’s struggling with the weight of ruling with the huge fallouts of his decisions and how they affect the people he’s responsible for protecting. There is the relatable fear in him — the fear of not being good enough ¬— which hit me in the chest.

I will say that I felt like the story wrapped up quickly, especially in comparison to the pacing of the rest of the book. I would’ve loved a few more chapters, but that might just be me being selfish because I didn’t want to leave this world.

Overall, I love how this world expanded and shows other facets of Viking history. I loved the addition of the Kyrr and their magic and hope that we see more of them. I think Young has become one of my auto-buy authors. I love her atmospheric writing, the way she crafts characters, her world and just everything really. I cannot wait to read her next book.