Eelyn, an Aska, has trained her whole life for her clan’s battle with their rivals, the Riki. She knows that they’re savage, ruthless fighters whose only goal is to see her and her people dead. So what happens when she sees her older brother Iri — the brother she saw die on the battlefield years ago — amongst the Riki?
Eelyn feels she has no choice but to follow Iri. She’s injured, captured, and taken to a Riki village far from home. Forced into life as a dýr, a fate worse than death for an Aska warrior, Eelyn must come to grips with the longing she feels to rejoin her clan and the growing loyalty she feels toward the people who took her in and helped her heal. In the midst of it all is Iri’s best friend, Fiske, a man who sees her as a threat but also does his best to protect her from the other Riki who struggle to accept the outsider who has infiltrated their community.
Wow! I’m honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I struggled a bit at the beginning to figure out what was going on, but it quickly became clear and then I was hooked. Eelyn is one of the strongest characters I’ve read about this year, a highly trained warrior who has no qualms about slitting a man’s throat or running a sword through someone’s heart. But Eelyn isn’t just a grizzled warrior. She’s also a teenage girl who misses her family. Who struggles to come to terms with the fact that the brother she thought was dead is living happily with the enemy. Who feels bound by the customs she grew up with but is maybe realizing that the differences between the Riki and the Aska are smaller than she thought. Eelyn’s reaction to essentially becoming a servant is as realistic as it could be. I was worried that we’d have a touch of Stockholm Syndrome, but the Riki who take her in seem, for the most part, to be genuinely kind and to honestly want to keep her safe.
And can we talk about Fiske for a second? He’s all powerful warrior one minute and then lovingly helping out his mom and protecting Eelyn the next. The slow burn as Fiske and Eelyn realized their feelings for each other just about murdered me, but I’ll die happy. It was such a sweet romance in such a violent book.
I received a free advance copy of Sky in the Deep from the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review. Sky in the Deep releases on April 24, 2018.
Final rating: ★★★★☆