Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 932
heavy, atmospheric viking-inspired historical fantasy
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK is a stand-alone companion novel to THE SKY IN THE DEEP. A historical fantasy with compelling world-building and fierce battle scenes, this book is steeped in fate and destiny. Tova was found when she was six years old in a boat with markings all over it by a Svell, Jorrund who believes the gods sent her for him to find. He tells her and the Svell that she was sent to the sea as a sacrifice but rescued by another god and delivered to them; however, as we know from the prologue, she was on a funeral pyre, believed to be dead. Tova does not remember any of her past before washing up on the shore.

Tova had markings on her skin that reveal her as a Kyrr, a tribe which mostly keeps to themselves, and as a "Truthtongue," able to read the stones and reveal the future. The Svell hate her as a general rule, believing she should have been killed when found, and blaming her for the negative futures she sees. When she sees a particularly bad future, they set out on the path to war.

Halvard will be the next ruler of his people, the Nadhir, and he wants to do what is best for them. However, this is not always clear. When battles and devastation break out, his tasks become even harder, and he must decide who to trust and what the path should be forward, wearing the heavy mantle of leadership.

While both characters were interesting and the pace was very fast, we get only some flashbacks into their pasts. These were the heaviest part of the character-building in the book. However, the vast majority of the book takes place in the present, where battles are frequently brewing. I would have liked to spend more time in the past and in connecting Halvard and Tova. On the other hand, this writing style keeps the novel moving very quickly, keeping up the stress and pressure of their reality.

The book felt very atmospheric, and scenes were described well, making it come to life off the pages. I would have liked to know more about Tova's people (Kyrr) and have some more context for this. However, this allows us to really view the world from Tova's perspective, with her knowledge and mysteries.

Both Tova and Halvard bear heavy burdens of duty for the tribes where they are- one is worn more fondly than the other, but they tie them together. The connections that they have are more of fate and destiny than of discussions/time. While I tend to prefer the latter in my romance, this felt more true to the story and the vikings, making this a very intense read and very light romance.

Overall, this has heavy appeal for people who enjoy viking-inspired, historical fantasy, and I would highly recommend for people looking for a fast-paced and fierce atmospheric story with a heavy dose of fate and a light touch of romance. Fans of THE SKY IN THE DEEP will not be disappointed with this engaging spin-off stand-alone.
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