Review: The Girl The Sea Gave Back

“Sometimes fate was a tangled knot. Sometimes it was a noose. Or a net. But sometimes, it was the rope that pulled you from the sinking deep.”

– Adrienne Young

Release Date: September 3, 2019
Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me an eARC of this novel!

Synopsis:
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.


The Girl the Sea Gave Back was one of the first eARCs I was approved for back in February when I started reviewing ARCs. There was so much buzz about it in the book community and I was ecstatic to be one of the first people to read a highly anticipated release. I knew it was a companion novel but it was said it could be read as a standalone, so excited me did just that. I did not like this book at all. One of the most anticipated releases of there year and I disliked it so strongly. I struggled from months on whether or not I even wanted to write a review that I was sure would be controversial. Then I thought maybe it was just because I didn’t read Sky in the Deep first. I couldn’t connect to the characters because I didn’t understand the villages/clans were and had no idea who anyone was or how they all related to each other. So I went back and read Sky in the Deep and LOVED it, it’s now one of my favorite novels.

After all that I went back and reread The Girl the Sea Gave Back and still didn’t like most of it, but I appreciated certain aspects of it more. I loved seeing Halvard again and seeing how he grew up. He was a sweet boy in Sky in the Deep and was now a grown man, trained to be a chieftain and lead his people, the combined clans of the Riki and Aska, into their new peace and continue it. I enjoyed his parts immensely and found myself skimming Tova’s parts to get to his faster. That being said though, the character development just wasn’t there for either Halvard or Tova. It missed its mark here, unlike the amazing character development we received in Sky in the Deep.

I had a really hard time connecting with Tova. I felt bad for how she was treated, an outcast of the clan that found her and lied to about how she came to be at the village. The Svell distrusted her and treated her horribly all because she was Kyrr and was deeply connected to the fate Spinners and could read the future from her stone. They didn’t want anything to do with her until the wanted something from her. Tova was supposed to be this strong female character, in charge of the future and the stones she cast to read it. Her trials with the Svell were supposed to make her into this admirable and tenacious character. I was told more about her than I was shown though and that’s where I had trouble connecting. It wasn’t until the end that Tova found her strength though. The first 70% of the book was her going along with the decisions of the Svell chiefs to appease them, even though they were awful to her and blamed her for what the stones said. I wanted her to be stronger sooner.

The last 30% of the novel is where The Girl the Sea Gave Back really hit its stride and engaged me. Tova and Halvard we finally united and the plot started to move forward. The ending felt unfinished though, I wanted more of Tova’s clan, the Kyrr. I wanted to know what came after the final toss of those stones and there was that potential for more. It felt like the story had finally just started and then it was suddenly ending. The stone and Spinners fascinated me and it would have been nice to have more background on them. The romance aspect of the book was also a tad insa-lovey and underwhelming since they were apart 70% of the book. The after I desperately wanted would have given the romance the time it need to grow I think.

While I feel like the ultimate hater, I just want to say while this obviously was not the book for me, the writing was beautiful. Young does such an amazing job of painting this viking world. From the villages to the landscape I could see it all perfectly. I knew not only what it looked like but how it felt to be there and any author that can do that is a fantastic one. So while The Girl the Sea Gave Back and I did not mesh well, I still loved Sky in the Deep and will continue to read any future works by Adrienne Young.

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