The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

Well tickle me into a tizzy, I cannot believe how much I am obsessed with this series – or should I say stand-alone series? Whatever it is, I am going to go with it because I am head over heels in love with Adrienne Young and all that she is bringing to the historical Young Adult Fiction world. Jaw dropping, stab stab with some gut wrenching goodies that kept me turning each page, so yeah, I liked it. The characters that seem so humanly believable down to the refreshing world building, I am beguiled. 

Something that is always hard for me to appreciate in young adult fiction is the world building, but I have really come to expect a certain level of descriptive genius from Young, at least at this point. I absolutely loved every angle, every tidbit of information around this Viking world that I was reading. Most of the development is around the Nadhir, Nadhir being the two combined clans from Sky in the Deep, connecting both Fiska and Eelyn, there is this time frame of ten years seeing where things for these clans evolved. The war that had been steamed from hatred found peace inside themselves but now face the growing, power hungry Svell Clan. The brutality, sheer hatred and malice in every combat scene sent my heart in a pounding panic. When you connect with even the supporting characters on both sides which ultimately enhances the world building between how different a society of people could be, or become with just a stretch of land or change in understanding, it simply captivates the reader. 

Vigdis is definitely the main leader who is generally out for power, more lands, more to conquer. Using Tova to gain the upper hand in how to manipulate his people to fight his war. The war, the battles my comrades this is what excites me about historical fiction of this magnitude. I love descriptions, I enjoy reading something that I can picture, and yes, in terms of actual historical basis, this may gear more left corner in fiction fantasy, but the basis of historical passion is there. Not only was the human counterparts the main attribute for the world building, but really the cultural, almost spiritual aspects of the dynamics themselves gave such a breath of fresh air to the entire plot. Between the Spinners, the belief system, their code of honor – it screamed clan differences of their human nature in what was imaginatively delightful. Power hungry leaders, check; corruptible religious agenda, check check. It was really well thought out development. 

And speaking of the characters, the main characters, ugh yes, amazing – especially Tova. Wow. Okay, so firstly let me say I was not expecting a character dynamic of her structure in the least bit, especially considering how Eelyn was for our female lead for Sky in the Deep.  Tova was simply put, designed to be this weaker, almost inferior damsel. At least for most of the novel, she was this sheltered, criticized, emotionally and mentally abused, her meeker personality was adamant, and honestly, I liked this a lot about Tova. As the novel grew, the visions aiding her inner strength, Tova evolved into somewhat of a badass. The entire time reading all I could do was picture this Kiera Knightley-isk character, King Arthur comes to my mind for her role as Guinevere; she was portrayed as a weaker, tattered woman, hindered by the wills of hatred and corruption by the clan she called home, but once that weight was removed, this damsel was one heck of a force, one with a bow. So as much as the fierce warrior female leads tickle my soul, I have to salute Tova, I felt this was such a great change of pace which really aided in her personal growth as a young woman that was important to explore. 

Halvard on the other spectrum had a little bit of a bath and forth throughout the novel. I felt he had this convenient, blood hungry Viking personality but still a child-like outlook or even fear when things came down to the nitty gritty. He literally submersed himself in this goal of bringing the Svell clan down but at the same angle still had this humanized mannerism that made you question his ability to truly understand himself as an adult. He struggles a good deal throughout which made the reader ultimately sympathize with his uncertainty. As the novel grew, his maturity, passion and potential really shined; he was such a phenomenal hero in my mind.

There is the obvious factor of a romance; I know all you readers are curious, especially from someone who actively complains about romance within a young adult fiction but this romance was almost silent background noise rather than up in your face smooches. It was more about their connection through a sort of fate, rather than a blissful enjoyment of growing fondly with one another. It kind of takes me back to my previous comment about the cultural, spiritual backbone that was The Girl the Sea Gave Back. The ending, or rather the beginning of their romance was the perfect blend of swoon with the complete understanding of the fate that was given in the runes. 

Bottom line, I adored it. Absolutely blown away, it was a page turner for me. My only issue is that for once I would have enjoyed more interactions between the main characters Halvard and Tova, but even the lack of this element didn’t hinder my enjoyment for the world building or the character dynamics between not just the main characters, but the entire clan conflicts as well. Not only was my chest pounding with excitement through every battle cry sang, I was shedding legitimately tears when something happened to a character that left me gutted. It was phenomenal. I honestly cannot wait to see what comes next in this world, I am curious to see the next shining clan, perhaps the Kyrr? Another. It will be interesting to read when the time comes!
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When I read the premise of this book, I thought it sounded so cool. And let's just talk about the cover. It is absolutely stunning. I have to admit, the cover is what really drew me in. I think it is just beautiful. But I digress. Let's get into the meat and bones of this review. The first 35-40% of the book was just blah for me. I was having a hard time following and it took me a while to realize that each chapter was told in a different perspective. With the prologue, we don't know who they are talking about. I will admit that I didn't realize that the beginning was with the Kyrr. We jump into a time later where Tova is with the Svell and they are mentioning a young girl that die. I thought that was the scene from the prologue. 

I think the flashbacks were a little disjointed and made the story hard to follow at times because we went from Tova then to Halvard during these flashbacks. 

Other than the story pace being a little confusing, I think this story was rather interesting. I haven't read Young's first, but I am not opposed to picking it up after this one. All in all, this was a pretty good fantasy. It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't terrible either.
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For me, this book wasn't as good as Sky in the Deep, which I absolutely loved! It was one that I would recommend. I enjoyed seeing the world that the author created again. the multiple POVs and the timeline switches weren't really my thing. I think many people will enjoy this world again for sure. I hope that the author continues with these companion novels because I feel as though the story can continue.
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I was really excited to get this book to review, the description sounded like a story I'd really like, and I wasn't disappointed. The plot was a fun story, and The Girl The Sea Gave Back was an easy read (two sittings for me).
The story is told from two separate perspectives and the reader gets to see how the two main characters lives twist together.
Tova is a Kyrr Thruthtongue who has no understanding of why or how she ended up washed up on the shores of Svell territory at the age of six. When Svell Tala, and Tova's mentor, Jorrund finds Tova on the shores in a half-burned boat, he takes her to Svell leader Bekan to decide what to do with her. Convincing Bekan to spare her life, Tova is raised to cast the stones for the Svell, to give them insight into the future. For over ten years, Tova does just this, barely questioning Jorrund on how she came to be in Svell territory, or why she was cast off from her people. As a war between the Svell and the Nahdir clans seems imminent, Tova is called on to cast the stones to tell the Svell how to proceed. She does as she's asked, but at what cost?
Halvard is the next in line to become the leader of the Nahdir people, a tribe of people made up of two formerly warring clans who became one. His mentor, Espen, has faith in Halvard when he falls short himself. Convinced that Espen has made a mistake, Halvard must learn quickly in order for his clan to survive the imminent invasion from the Svell. When one Nahdir village is burned to the ground with no survivors in one night though, responsibility he isn't sure he can handle is thrust upon Halvard. 
When the two clans meet in an attempt at reparations though, Halvard is instantly drawn to the mysterious Kyrr girl who arrived with the Svell. Knowing that the Kyrr never leave the highlands, his confusion is further compounded when he can't get the girl out of his head. He seems to see her in the shadows and he can't figure out why. The mystery of her is pulled from his mind however when he is forced to gather his troops and warn his villages of the coming attack. As the battle looms, Halvard has to find a way to ensure his clan is victorious, for if they lose, the Nahdir face total extinction.
The plot idea was brilliant, although I felt the execution left a little to be desired. While I understand that this is a young adult novel, I felt both the plot and the characters could have been a little more developed. Halvard and Tova were relatable, but not exactly memorable. I didn't feel as if either were characters that would stay in my head long after finishing this book. I wasn't easily able to imagine them, as the description of them physically was slightly lacking, almost seeming as if the author didn't care how the reader pictured them. Tova's tattooed Truthtongue ink was described a little, but not in a way that was memorable (aside from the henbane and yarrow on her hands, and the eye on her chest). 
The story did end on an open-ended note though, which was nice. It left the possibility of a sequel on the table, while also wrapping up the story within The Girl The Sea Gave Back. Overall I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it in a pinch, but it wasn't one that left me raving.
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I read this book in one sitting! I loved Sky in the Deep, so I was jazzed to get an e-arc from NetGalley. I don't read many YA fantasy novels with nordic mythology elements, so entering this world again was a lovely adventure. I enjoyed the pacing of the novel, and thought that withholding/releasing of information in the book was well done. I also really like Tova and Halvard! The only downside to standalone novels is that you don't get to ship them throughout a series!
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Probably my favorite part of the whole novel is that some of our favorite characters from Sky in the Deep come back! While the reader doesn’t need to read Sky in the Deep to enjoy this novel, it helps to paint a picture of the time and know the history of the clans.

Tova, our protagonist, is a truthtongue from Kyrr. A truthtongue has the ability to predict the future by casting die. Found washed up on shoe in a burning boat, the Svell people raised her.

However, the Kyrr being a Svell enemy, they act haughty to Tova. Her life being fated by the die, one wrong prediction and it could mean the end of her life.

Halvard, our other protagonist made an appearance in Sky in the Deep, but as a mere child. Now, ten years later, he is chosen to lead the Nadhir (once Aska and Riki clans).

The reader finds themselves in another enemies-to-lovers romance.

"“Augua ór tivar. Ljá mir sýn.”
Eye of the gods. Give me sight."

In a story of deceit, death, peace, and most importantly, family, The Girl the Sea Gave Back doesn’t disappoint! This novel left me wanting more and I can see so many more spin-offs that Young can grace us with (please, pretty please!).
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I love this author. And the story was really cool and I can wait to know if this is a series or a standalone. 
But there were so spelling mistakes that I hope are fixed in the final copy of this book.
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This book was so much better than the first! The clans have rebuilt a new life together and are living in peace in the first time in forever. But danger is just around the corner as another clan declares war on them.
It was a great story, well written and thought out.
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I was so excited for this book, especially since I loved the first one, and I am so glad that I got approved for this e-Arc! There’s something so cool about Young’s writing and her world-building. I mean, come on, Vikings! Who doesn’t love the Vikings?! I loved the mention of old characters and the introduction of new ones, as well as new conflicts. I loved the growth of Tova and Halvard, but I especially loved Tova: her heart, her bravery, her backstory, omg her everything! But I must admit that both central characters could have been more explored, more developed. I also felt that some parts were rushed, and I think that’s why I’m giving this 3/5 stars. I will most definitely recommend this to my students, but I feel like this is a read for the lower classmen in high school since the writing is rather…simplistic (?). Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this eARC. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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I'm pretty neutral about the book overall. It was good and I liked the throwbacks to the first book in this universe. I also liked how there's room for more stories to take place. Sadly I didn't really like much else. It's not that I disliked the story--I didn't, at all. I liked it alright. Because, to me, that's all it was. Alright. Halvard and Tova had a lot of great potential, but I think it was only halfway explored. There was a lot of focus on flashbacks this time around that there wasn't in the first book. I'm not liking that as much. I think they did more harm than good, truthfully. I think the bones of the plot was good, but the way it was executed was not great. I wanted to love this one so badly, I really did. But, truthfully, it was just meh. The first book was better. I'd still say it's a good book, definitely worth reading, especially if you liked book one, but I don't know that I'd be re-reading.
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8/1/2019: Now that I've had more time to digest The Girl the Sea Gave Back, I believe I am now in a better frame of mind to justly review it. When I had first received it, I was by far ecstatic to receive it, so I intentionally waited a couple months to let myself gain perspective and I'm glad of my decision.

This follow-up novel to Sky in the Deep which, per Adrienne's own words is meant to stand on its and can be read without the first, did not live up to the amazing that is SITD. That isn't a bad thing, per se, because they are different novels with different purposes and situations. Nearly the entire cast of characters is new, save for a few appearances of some of my beloved in SITD. The situations escalating and the conflicts occurring are of a different nature, and they are dealt with differently. It only makes sense to me that the tone and pacing would be different as well. It is, in fact, a different novel with different merits.

I was happy to be back in this world, wild with its mysticism and beliefs that are thrilling and somewhat familiar. I was excited to see a new side to it, different peoples, a widening of the world established in SITD. And the mystery surrounding Tova's existence, what events led her to the Svell and from her own people, and the Truthtongue powers she holds. That being said, while these elements are, at their heart, similar to what is in SITD, there was an unfortunate imbalance of a rushed love-at-first-sight romance and not enough continuous action to sustain my interest without my mind wandering. I still enjoyed TGTSGB and I will, without a doubt, continue reading whatever Adrienne puts out into the world, but TGTSGB was lacking the thrumming pulse and tension I loved from SITD. I daresay, even though I previously stated I breezed through TGTSGB, there were several moments where I was a tad bored and the story dragged. 

I applaud Adrienne regardless of myself not wholeheartedly loving TGTSGB. She is growing, exploring new writing, and she is a master at bringing to life ancient cultures that whisper into this world. I admire her for putting her all into this book, especially after the badassery that is SITD. I knew, I absolutely knew, that SITD would be a hard book to follow-up without how much I adore it. TGTSGB is definitely worth a read.

I put 4/5 stars for my rating, but this leans more toward a 3.75/5 stars rating.

Happy reading!


I want to thank St. Martin's Press for sending me this gorgeous ARC after I requested it.

After breezing through it, I want to take a couple days to digest and write up a review. This one has been getting some critical buzz that I both agree and disagree with and I want to make sure I have my thoughts gathered and explained.

A solid 4 out of 5 stars from me. Doesn't pack the same immediate and powerful punch as Sky in the Deep, but I still enjoyed it and I couldn't stop turning the pages. It was good to be back in the fictional world.
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*Thank you Netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review*

DNF at 26%

I would avoid giving it a star rating as I'm not finishing it, but Netgalley requires one so I will be giving it one star.

This book was disappointing, and confusing. I read Sky in the Deep last year and absolutely loved it. I was so excited for this book, and it was one of my most anticipated of the entire year. So DNFing it did not come lightly. 

Unfortunately, 26% in and I couldn't even tell you what it was about. There were so many names, and characters, and places that it all got jumbled. The two first person POV's sounded exactly the same, so i couldn't tell who was who, and constantly forgot which POV I was in and which of the million side characters went with which story. 

At 26% I could not even tell you anything about any of the characters or what the plot was supposed to be. I feel like at a quarter through the book those are things i should at least have a sense of, but i had absolutely no sense of what was going on in this story, or the characters in it. 

The two first person POVs really messed with me. I'm not a huge fan of first person as it is, but if you're going to do two of them in one story, they have to sound different because they are coming from different people. I do personally think all multiple POV stories should be in third person, but i've also read stories where there are multiple POVs in first but they read different enough i could tell who was who. Unfortunately, these read exactly the same, with the characters having exactly the same kind of lyrical thoughts, and i didn't have any sense of either of them personally to be able to distinguish them based on personality alone. That and there were so many side characters that i couldn't keep track of who was with who, it just didn't mesh with me. 

I definitely recommend trying if you liked Sky in the Deep, because I have seen good reviews, and I know not everyone sees it the way I see it. But unfortunately, this book just did not work for me, and I don't want to force myself to read something i really dislike.
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After following the story of Eelyn in Sky in the Deep, Adrienne Young delves back into Viking lore with her second novel The Girl the Sea Gave Back. This time we follow the story of Tova, a young Kyrr woman, a Truthtongue--"One who could cast the rune stones and see the web of fate." As a child Tova drowned at sea and went through the traditional Viking funeral rites, being cast to out to sea on a burning boat. However, fate sent the rain that cooled the flames and brought her boat to the opposite shore where she is found by Jorrund, a man from the Svell clan. Jorrund, recognizing the marks that cover her skin as those of a truthtongue, takes her in and uses her casting skills to gain influence and power within the Svell tribe. Then, one day she casts the stones and sees something the Svell cannot accept, something that drives them to war with the Riki and drives Tova to questioning her own fate. Amongst war and runes, Young also weaves in the story of Halvard, a Riki warrior, twining his fate with Tova's. Will Tova be able to stop the coming war and will she ever remember her past?
Young's writing perfectly captures the Nordic atmosphere, interweaving viking lore and history with her own story. The setting is just absolutely lush. She also brings back familiar characters from her first novel as she expands and enriches her Viking-inspired world. While the setting and plot are intriguing and compelling, it is the characters that really draw us into Young's world. We want Tova and Halvard to really come into their own; we are rooting for them.
I adored this book. I loved the Norse setting, I loved the mysticism and the supernatural. I loved the battles and the character development. After a couple of false starts, I read this book in one sitting. However, something seemed missing--one last magical element, but I'm not sure what it is. (Maybe it felt a little rushed? Or, I probably should go back and read Sky in the Deep to help me figure it out. )
Overall, I give this book 4.5/5 stars.
Thanks Netgalley for sending me an ARC of this novel!
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“I’ve been dead for most of my life.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ golden stars.

Reading The Girl the Sea Gave Back was like revisiting old friends. I truly missed this world and these characters with my whole heart and while reading, my heart both ached and felt so full. Adrienne once again, completely swept me away into an unforgettable journey with her lyrical writing. 
I absolutely adored the new characters we were introduced to in this one and they have definitely made a mark on my heart, especially Tova. She was so smart, brave, but she also had a huge heart and wasn’t afraid to let it show. And Halvard, oh Halvard...he is such a cinnamon roll and you really can’t help but fall in love with him. It was really nice to visit some familiar faces but I can’t really talk about my feelings on that without spoiling...*ensue squeals of joy*
The Girl the Sea Gave Back is beautiful yet an intense read that will stick with you long after you’ve closed it. There were moments where my heart just stopped and I literally bawled my eyes out a good 4 times while reading this one (photos in story). I couldn’t stop rooting for these characters and needless to say, I adored this novel with every fiber of my being. 

I am still gathering my thoughts but I will have a full in depth review coming to my blog soon. ✨

Thank you so, so much to @adrienneyoung and @wednesdaybook for being so kind and sending me an arc of this beautiful story. I will forever treasure it. 

P.S. TGSTGB is a companion novel to Sky in the Deep so I highly recommend reading that one before stepping into this one. 💙
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That cover had me over the moon. Unfortunately it was just a 3 star so-so read for me. I couldn’t keep track of all the tribes and who was rivals and who invaded who however many years ago. Maybe that was me and my hectic life with 4 girls and not being able to get engrossed.
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I was so excited to have a companion novel to Sky in the Deep, however it was more difficult for me to connect with these characters for some reason. I still love the setting but just didn’t relate to these characters in the same way as Adrienne’s previous novel.
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First of all, I would like to thank Netgalley for providing me with an ARC. As soon as I read the first book, I knew there was no way I could live without reading the sequel, and NetGalley made that possible. So thank you, guys. 

     I really enjoyed watching the whole story unfold. This definitely was not a fast-moving story; it was more of the kind where you just sit back and ride the wave as the plots folds and thickens and twists and turns. I think if I were the kind of person that really needed a gripping plot to keep me interested, I would not have enjoyed this book nearly as much.

     Fortunately, I enjoy the details and the process of character growth, so a little bit more of an ambling plotline doesn't bother me as long as things are still happening. Which they definitely were, just not at lightning speeds. When all was said and done, I was heartbroken that the story was over. 

      I really liked the characters, especially Halvard, who was an angel as a child and perfection as a man. I was really happy to see Eelyn and Fiske again, but I was disappointed by the fact that we missed so much of their relationship: the wedding, the birth of their child and Eelyn's pregnancy. I wish some of that had been included in Sky in the Deep. 

     There weren't even that many inappropriate elements in the story. In fact, I can't think of any. Five out of five stars for The Girl the Sea Gave Back.
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This is a standalone book, but it is also a functional sequel to Sky in the Deep. You don’t technically need to read the first to read this one but there are a lot of recurring characters and the main event from the first book is mentioned a lot here. I’m not sure why it hasn’t been listed as a sequel other than the fact that the POV characters are different in this one.

We focus on Halvard, Fiske’s younger brother on this book. He has a dual POV with the titular girl: Tova. We flip back and forth between Halvard who is trying to keep peace for the clan that the Riki and Aska formed and Tova who’s “people” are heading for war to take over Halvard’s land.

I loved the first book in this series, and I thought it worked very well as a standalone. The magic system was never very clear but the plot and characters all followed a good path and everything was nicely resolved. I did like the world though so it was nice to see more vikings and clans in this book. We don’t have a lot of vikings in young adult, so I was happy to pick this up.

It doesn’t quite hold up as well at Sky in the Deep though. It feels like very little happens in this one. The whole plot takes course over a few days to a week culminating in a huge battle. It feels very abrupt and everything up to that point sort of drags a little. Halvard isn’t terribly interesting, he’s good and wants peace. That’s sort of it.

Tova is fascinating, and I wish we had seen more fortune telling from her. It’s disappointing that we never really find out all of her secrets. The ending feels a bit rushed. I would have loved to know more about the Kyrr and how they live. About what Tova’s markings meant. But we don’t really get to know much of that at all before the story just seems to cut off. I’m sort of worried it’s setting up for another instalment.

The one thing I hated about this book was the “romance” between Halvard and Tova. They barely speak but they’re “destined”. The story just decides they are meant to be together so they’re both madly in love with each other on first sight and it’s just awkward. There was no reason for them to be in love other than destiny and I really didn’t connect with it.

Sky in the Deep was a refreshing and beautifully written novel with strong character dynamics. The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a beautifully written novel with blander characters and less of a story. Young’s prose is fantastic, and I enjoyed delving back into the world of the viking clans, but the sequel only shows more of the holes in the feeble world weaving and the connection between the leads is nothing compared to Fiske and Eelyn. It’s a fine read, but nothing to write home about.

This doesn’t feel like a story that needed to be told, it feels like an exceedingly long epilogue at best.
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Lovely second novel by Adrienne Young! I was so glad to be back in this beautiful world, especially with a whole new set of interesting characters. The author's writing style is so lovely, and I just can't get enough of her books.
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I really enjoyed this book as others I've heard didn't like it so much. I'm a huge fan of Vikings and the history of that time, and it brought me to that world imagining fighting Vikings, viking gods, etc. I loved the chapters, Tova, the young girl, who was raised by a different tribe for reasons I wont spoil and Halvard who became leader during the book, both characters became connected towards the end of the book. Each chapter the charactere spoke in there own words as to what was going on in the book. The only thing I wished there was more of was a little romance between Tova and Halvard. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this book. I also won a printed copy of this book thru goodreads. Thank you goodreads.
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