Reading this book was like being chucked headfirst into a fantasy world with no warning. At first you have no idea what is going on, but then you find yourself pulled into the story and the world. Hours later, you’ve finished the book and haven’t done any of your assignments, and are too excited to sleep (at least, that’s how I was).
The book follows Eelyn, a warrior of the Aska clan. She’s been raised her entire life learning to fight and hate the Riki, one of the rival clans. Her mother died many years ago during a raid, and her brother died 5 years ago fighting the Riki, ending up in a ditch with his stomach cut open. Except one day, on the battlefield, she realizes that her brother isn’t dead—and he’s fighting with the enemy. After her capture, Eelyn becomes stuck between her alive-again brother, now one of the Riki, and the culture that she has been raised in for her entire life, as well as the family that she has left behind.
When I saw I got approved for this book on NetGalley I was so excited, but also kind of nervous. I had heard so many good things about this book, and the last thing I wanted was to have too high of expectations, and have a wonderful book disappoint me just because I was expecting too much. I needn’t have worried, however. This book took every expectation I had, looked at it with utter disdain, and then destroyed it. Strong, independent protagonist? Check. Interesting characters that I could connect to, and that I could root for? Double check. Amazing premise, with a great underlying message, all set in an amazing world? Check x100.
I loved Eelyn. Female protagonists are normally pretty hit-or-miss for me, as they are either super strong and wonderful, or they just sit around complaining and waiting for a man to save them. Eelyn definitely falls in the first category, as she runs around swinging an axe and a sword, slaying her enemies and just proving in general that she doesn’t rely on anyone to protect her. I was also a huge fan of her relationships with her clan, since it was like she had one gigantic family. She was independent, but she also didn’t spurn others just because she could. One of the things I liked a lot was that her reactions were pretty in-line with what I think realistic reactions would be to these scenarios. She wasn’t a completely flopping-fish mess, but she wasn’t entirely rational either, which makes sense. Her dead brother is no longer dead—if she had just shrugged and gone along with it I would have questioned what was going on. But her actions were just irrational enough to make me feel the same emotions that she was, yet not so outlandish that I scratched my head, wondering what was going on
I also loved the message that was present in this book. The blurb is pretty descriptive, so I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to say that Eelyn starts falling in love with Fiske, and is confronted with the question: clan, or Fiske? I don’t want to spoil how it turns out, but I think it approaches the idea that where a person is from or what they look like doesn’t define who they are inside. I love myself an awesome book with a great message, and this was definitely one!
My only complaint is minor, and it’s that the romance with Fiske seemed a little awkward or forced at times, but in the whole scheme of things it really didn’t bother me too much. It was more of a passing thought that I ignored almost immediately.
This was such a good book. I loved the world, the characters, the plot, everything about it. I flew through it so fast that I didn’t even take notes when I was reading like I normally do (oops) because it was just too interesting to put down. I know this is a stand-alone, but if a companion book ever surfaces I’ll be on it in a heartbeat!
Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of Sky in the Deep through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way impacted my rating, review, or opinion of this book.